I hate starting a series in the middle, but sometimes circumstances require it. Sometimes it works out. This book is an example of why it sometimes doesn’t and why I really wish I’d read the first book first. There’s a good recap of the previous one included here, but it’s so complex that I got lost just within the recap; there’s just too much going on. More important, I liked this book, and wished I’d been able to enjoy the first one too. I may still go back and do that.
Wexler has created a really interesting world, with two kinds of magic, and what looks to me like a real chance it will turn from fantasy into science fiction at the end. But if it doesn’t that may be even better. It’s got a carefully thought out magic system that focuses more on concepts and origins than on the mechanics of magic – there’s a fair amount of wand (haken) waving and things just happen. But it’s also pretty cool.
Wexler has been careful to set up an interesting coterie of distinct and interesting characters, though Maya and Gyre, brother and sister, are clearly at the center. It’s all well done, and the characters are a key part of why the book works well and flows smoothly. At the same time, there’s a certain distance to it all that kept me from being quite as submerged in the book as I’d have liked. Perhaps that’s a result of not following the characters from the start, being involved in all their history. Yet, there seems to me to be too often a slightly clinical, perhaps constructed, tone to it all – as if it has all been carefully planned out, without quite enough organic growth to hold it together. There’s nothing specific I can really point to, but it’s there, and it’s why the book doesn’t get that extra star or half star.
All that said, I really liked the world, will certainly pick up the next book, and there’s a good chance I’ll get the prior one as well. I’ll likely check out some of Wexler’s other books as well. I haven’t enjoyed a new fantasy series like this for a while, and it’s a nice feeling.
I will say that, in ebook form, I found the included map useless – the fonts are so stylized and jagged, and so small, that I couldn’t make anything of it.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.