In the second installment of Shepherd’s (Fall from Grace, 2014) mythical fantasy series, demons wage a mortal war against elves while an exiled goddess makes a bid for a throne.
Exiled angels and demons are no longer welcome in the Sixty Realms, so they govern their own societies. So when it’s clear that demons have breached the elves’ borders, something needs to be done. Iykva, like other demons, craves war with angels’ “earthen children” as the first step in a fight against the angels themselves. Hence, the king of the angels, Wisterian, works out a truce with the king of the demons (and the first vampire), Jamiason; they agree that vampires and demons may drink the blood of whomever they please, but only after giving the elf prince, Iladrul, 15 summers to mature and build an army. The truce unfortunately doesn’t last long, and soon the fairy God Aiken must choose a side. Meanwhile, Lady Lucias makes a deal with Loki at Lucias’ cottage: she offers to bear his children, as she can breed archangels. Her true agenda, however, is to assemble a Quorum of archangels in an attempt to grab a currently open position next to Noliminan, the king of lords. As the war rages on, Lucias’ son, Ishitar, makes a decision that will change everything. This novel is tightly packed with characters, many boasting lofty back stories. There’s also plenty of melodramatic tension; even the archangel of death, Azrael, who can only be seen and heard by Ishitar, isn’t immune from powerful emotion, as he ultimately reveals his love for someone. There are few action scenes, but this is the essence of Shepherd’s tale, as Lucias equates what she’s doing to the chesslike board game kings’ castle; similarly, what matters in this book aren’t the battles (which are typically shown in their aftermaths) but the moves that characters make to get to them. That said, there’s so much happening that some characters get lost; for example, Lucias and Loki’s children—who have fascinating, instantly familiar names such as Gorgon and Djinn—don’t hold much significance. Nevertheless, this series is far from over, and someone’s bound to take the narrative reins in a later book.
An impassioned fantasy tale but one that’s too dense with characters.