A guest review by Sirius
Summary: A fast-paced, intense story which clarified some questions I had from the book one, left me with more, and convinced me that Malik does not deserve as much hate from me as I thought he would (but there were plenty of other characters I thought deserve slow and painful death).
The amorality of gods makes it hard to tell bad from good and right from wrong. Fen Jacin-rei doesn’t care. All Fen cares about is saving his family, and he’ll sacrifice anything that gets in his way. Including his own soul.
No longer willing to wait for the machinations of the gods’ minions, Fen accepts the trade Kamen Malick offers. Together they set out to rescue Fen’s family and kill the man who betrayed them. But Fen is an Untouchable, one whose mind hosts the spirits of long-dead magicians, and with Voices of the Ancestors screaming in his head, Fen finds it harder and harder to stave off madness.
Malick has his own reasons to hand over everything Fen wants and equally compelling reasons to withhold everything Fen needs. In over his head with his timing as bad as ever, Malick must devise a way to do his god’s bidding without breaking his god’s laws—and keep Fen sane and on Malick’s side in the bargain.
Let’s clarify my biases first. I know I mentioned it before but for this book it definitely bears repeating — I hate manipulative characters. Obviously there are manipulations and there are manipulations and I don’t hate them all the same, but it happens more than once that the level of visceral negative reaction I have experienced toward several manipulative characters equaled only the reaction I have towards the characters who kill in cold blood and do it repeatedly. Weird, I know, but hey, we all have likes and dislikes. I want characters to have flaws, as long as they are well written, and I will forgive a lot of more serious ones, but give me a master manipulator, especially the one who manipulates the lives of the innocents, and I am ready to start fuming. 🙂 Let’s just say that in this book I had many reasons to fume, because at one point or another everybody seemed to want to manipulate, use, and abuse Jacin for their own purposes because of the Fate which was thrust upon him.
The book overall was a very fast paced and intense read as I said in the summary, but it also emotionally drained me and I don’t know if I want the repeat of the experience any time soon. It was good, do not get me wrong, it was very good, and the action scenes alone were fantastic, magical or not, but there was a reason why I could not get past the first quarter in the story for weeks now. When I read fantasy books which I call “The Chosen One” subgenre, I tend to cheer and sympathise for the main characters a lot, if nothing else because they have so much hard work to do to save the world and yes, so far I think I would put this book in that subgenre since, while I cannot predict where the author would take me, it is pretty obvious that the fate of this world lies on Jacin’s shoulders.
Jacin has certainly had it rough, and while I was reading I kept wondering how much more pain and suffering he would have to endure and why can’t we have some break for him. And yes, as I said I know that this is a traditional trope —those guys can’t catch a break till the series is done and they are not necessarily going to end up alive either. I guess because I related to Jacin so strongly I felt that somebody was kicking me repeatedly and the blows kept coming. It just felt that the tension was always there, and there was no place to catch a breath. I do not count several sarcastic comments by Malick as letting this reader catch a breath, even though it made me chuckle. 🙂 What can I say? I did warn you that this writer can make my emotions react very strongly.
I really loved how Malick’s character progressed throughout this book. It was clear to me that he was madly attracted to Jacin in book one, but I was not sure that Malick loved him. I was sure by the end of this book. Malick’s development from somebody who, while willing to protect Jacin, was also willing to manipulate him even in the beginning of this book to somebody who was willing sacrifice everything that he holds dear for Jacin was a joy to read about. I also liked that Jacin made some tiny steps towards recognition of what he wants at the end.
I loved how we learn more about this world and the key players in it and how much is still hidden. We get to know more about who Temshiels are and who their counterparts are and I really loved how their Gods’ games were just hinted at in such tantalizing way, I can’t wait to learn more about what the Gods want and whether they care just a little bit about mere mortals.
Because the story and characters have such strong hold over me, it gets the rating you see, but I was not a happy camper when the story ended despite the fact that it does not end as cliffhanger at all and supposedly gives Jacin a chance to start something a new.
The POV switches still annoyed me, in particular I did not feel that Samin’s and Shig’s POV bring anything new to the story and could have been shown through the eyes of the more important characters. I still hope that they will become more important, but right now I did not like that at all.
To sum up, besides the POV switches I have no intellectual criticism to offer about this book, but emotionally it tired me out very much. Right now I am determined to read books three and four together — I do need to see the ending before I can continue to read it.
Recommended. Oh and I think that cover is gorgeous.