by L. Penelope
Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #3
Also in this series: Song of Blood and Stone, Breath of Dust & Dawn, Whispers of Shadow & Flame
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Six weeks after the fall of the Mantle, centuries-old enemies Elsira and Lagrimar struggle to unite. The will of the goddess is that the two nations become one, but while the war may be over, peace is still elusive. As desperate Lagrimari flee their barren land for a chance at a better life in Elsira, a dangerous faction opposed to the unification rises.
When a shadowy group with ties to the Elsiran government takes responsibility for the attack and promises more, an unlikely crew is assembled to investigate. Among them are Lizvette Nirall, a disgraced socialite seeking redemption for past mistakes, and Tai Summerhawk, a foreign smuggler determined to keep a promise he made to a dead man. Powerful Earthsinger Darvyn ol-Tahlyro is sent with a secret assignment, one that Queen Jasminda can’t know about. And in a prison far away, Kyara ul-Lagrimar searches for a way to escape her captors and save a family long thought dead.
It’s a race against time in this world of deadly magic, secret agendas and court intrigue to discover those responsible for the bombing before the next attack. And in another land a new enemy awakens—one that will strike terror into the hearts of gods and men.
Wow, what a ride! This book takes the foundation laid in the previous books and novellas and starts tying together many of the threads. I would strongly not recommend reading this without reading the previous books, and most certainly the previous novella.
“Listen,” she said, “if someone doesn’t try to kill you at least once in your life, then maybe you’re not making a big enough impact in the world.”
Unlike the previous books which focused mainly on one couple, this book starts tying together multiple plot lines. In practice, this means there are multiple POV characters, from previous book’s characters like Jasminda, Kyara and Darvyn as well as new ones. My personal favorites among the new viewpoints were Tai and Lizvette and the romance between them, with a romance that verged on insta-love but was still enjoyable in its execution. Others, like Ella’s with her clumsy investigation of the bombing and adoption of the two Lagrimari orphans, slowed down the pace for me, though it did show the day to day issues with integrating the Lagrimari population with the Elsirans. And, at first, I thought that’s what this book would be about, but what’s happening in Elsira is just a small cog in a larger machine.
“Do we not have a responsibility to serve and help those weaker than we are? Isn’t that why we have this power?”
She turned away again, Her voice growing oddly hollow as She spoke. “My power was not unusual in my time. I was as everyone else was. It is only now that it sets me apart.”
I’ve had my suspicions about Oola ever since the first book (“Oh hey, yeah I’m back, but lemme just make this big proclamation and then abdicate all responsibility for actually doing anything about it”) and while each book has revealed a little more of her motives, what exactly she’s trying to accomplish is still unclear. What is clear, though, is the Yalyan Physickers’ endgame and how they hope to accomplish it, and it’s just as horrifying as you’d expect. Much of the book takes place in Yalya, whether it’s the experiences of the imprisoned Roshon, his family, and Kyara or from the team, including Darvyn, Tai and Lizvette, sent to investigate Lizvette’s father’s connection to the unrest in Elsira, and, in a secret known only to a few of them, the possible rescue of Jasminda’s family. Of all the characters in this series so far, Darvyn and Kyara remain my favorites, and their viewpoints were the highlight of the book for me. Watching the sheltered and angry Lizvette shed the shell her parents built around her was also quite enjoyable, especially her interactions with Tai, who can’t resist yanking her chain. I have to say, though, coming off reading the previous novella, that I especially missed Ani in this one, though I would agree that adding in one more POV wouldn’t have been prudent. The Yalyan portions of the book are very action-packed, so much so that in comparison the parts of the book set in Elsira drag. The worldbuilding continues to be excellent, and I loved the stark comparisons between Yalya and the much more agricultural and “backwards” Elsira.
“She knew he felt the need to make this right. Isn’t that what the Shadowfox did? He’d spent his whole life saving people he didn’t even know, and she loved him all the more for his determination to rescue her, even when she didn’t deserve it.”
While the book ends on quite a cliffhanger, there’s also a clearer idea of what Jasminda and crew will be facing down in the next book. I’m especially looking forward to all the hints pointing to more Kyara in the next one! So, overall, while I enjoyed the book – especially how it upped the stakes – all the POVs never quite meshed for me, so I’d give this 3.5 stars, rounding up to 4. I will definitely be looking forward to the next book next year, and hoping for another novella in the meantime!