Happily, this book pulls away a bit from the leering of its predecessor and settles into good natured (but not safe) adventure. Rap and Inos continue their various escapades, each with quite a lot of danger and pain along the way, but always with fair confidence that we’ll see them escape. The book’s main flaw is that there is so much adventure, to the extent that it’s a little hard to keep track of the protagonists’ wandering around the world of Pandemia, or of the forces arrayed against them. In this book, Duncan stops in at many of the regions named on the map – just enough give a taste of the region and its distinct race, but not enough to really explore anything.
The book is largely a return to form from the second book in the series, but also feels fairly directionless. Rap and his cohort are engaging and interesting to follow, so that half of the book largely works. Inos’ travails are less successful, largely because so very much of this world appears to put women in a subordinate position, which I found tiring. There are strong women and men in the book, but their gender roles and characteristics tend to be somewhat exaggerated, leaving them less interesting than they could be. The magic system continues to be largely interesting, though there are notable gaps – e.g., how mages go from enhanced intellect and ability to casting spells.
A fun book, though it could have been stronger with more direction and less wandering. On the plus side, it ends in a substantial cliffhanger. I’m not generally a fan of these, but this one works well.