How do you follow up an excellent start to a series such as Legacy of Ash? Well, Matthew Ward has the answer. Write a better sequel. Yes, in my amateur opinion, Legacy of Steel is a more than worthy addition. Viktor is missing, the council can’t seem to agree on anything, allowing the Parliament of Crows to wreak havoc in the city. Just for good measure, the Hadari haven’t quite picked up and gone home. Instead, they are attempting to finish the job. That’s the plot, but there is so much more to this book than that. You can read the bumpf for more info.
The writing is superb throughout, the descriptions are crisp and the dialogue feels very natural. Ward adds to his world, adding new factions that generate more interest and plot strands. The world is harsh and there is an overarching darkness that pervades every scene. However, not all is grim - Ward adds humour (and some great laughs) throughout which is an essential element. In my amateur opinion, humans will find humour in the darkest of times, and any fiction book that lacks humour, lacks humanity.
This leads me to the characters, which are without a shadow of a doubt the best thing about the series. We have gods, demons, magickers and more and every one of them feels real. The author does a great job of making each character not just believable, but likeable. Case in point - in Legacy of Ash, Ebigail Kiradin, was my favourite character despite her being the Big Bad (not a spoiler). Each character is different, dealing with their various issues in differing ways. What stands out most is that while there are perceivable “enemies,” their motivations are justifiable and it’s hard to fault them. When the line between “good and evil” (meh!) is blurred, it makes for a far more captivating story and the Legacy Trilogy is building up to a stellar ending. Legacy of Light is sitting on my desk awaiting reading. When I power through my TBR and get to it, I’ll let you know.
Fun story - I remember when I started this book, the prologue was outstanding but was quickly followed by “introductory” chapters which encouraged me to move on to other books with pending reviews. A few months later, I went back to it and expected more of the same. I…WAS…WRONG!!! This book was not just epic, it was one of the best fantasy novels I have read in a long time. This is of course a bold claim, so let me try and convince you too.