A lot of people move from various points A to points B, several dying gruesomely in the process, in the action-packed middle volume of the Crimson Empire trilogy.
It is only because the Crimson Empire's army was betrayed from within that Gen. (formerly Princess) Ji-hyeon's considerably smaller Cobalt Company still survives. But now, fresh Crimson forces approach, and Ji-hyeon’s only hope is to negotiate an alliance to fight their true mutual enemy, the Burnished Chain. Former rebel and Crimson Queen Zosia is challenging Ji-hyeon’s leadership. The mercenary Maroto has been kidnapped to the newly raised island of Jex Toth, where he confronts hideous monsters and the crew of a wrecked pirate ship. Meanwhile, Maroto’s friends and his angry nephew, Sullen, go in search of him, pursued by Sullen’s mother, Best, who’s convinced that she must kill Sullen and Maroto to restore her homeland’s disturbed weather. In the city of Diadem, the Black Pope of the Burnished Chain has usurped the Crimson Empire’s Queen Indsorith’s throne, condemned the ex-ruler to imprisonment and torture, and rallied a fleet to establish a new divine rule upon the continent of the Star. And among them all darts the treacherous sorcerer Hoartrap the Touch, lying and stirring up trouble and catastrophic magic, pursuing his own mysterious, but obviously deadly, agenda. Clearly, many storylines are launched here, but they don’t seem to be doing much to propel the larger story forward, and the splintered plots make it somewhat difficult to keep track of everyone and everything that’s happened. Every small part is exciting and involving in the moment, but the end of the first book (A Crown for Cold Silver, 2015) suggested we might be experiencing more apocalypse at this point.
Decidedly a middle volume, serving mainly to put the characters in place to enact the finale, whatever it might be.