The third volume in Bowen’s (Servants and Followers, 2014, etc.) epic-fantasy Legends of Arria series.
This latest installment continues the saga of the new Knights of Arria and the citizens of the town of Coe Baba. As the book opens, the residents are recovering from a violent clash with the evil Doomba and his followers. As the people blame one another for the destruction, a small group realizes they have something in common: They all have different kinds of magical powers. They form an unlikely, somewhat fractious alliance to protect their community from the forces of the evil Doomba. Meanwhile, Basha and Oaka (with their friends Monika and Gnat) continue on their own quest for Tau’s Cup, but now that they know they are also the fabled Knights of Arria, they must learn how to properly wield their swords and magic. The group faces trying times as they struggle to use their powers while also dealing with Doomba and his followers’ threats to their survival and freedom. The book’s conclusion sets the stage for at least one more book in the series. Readers of the previous books will welcome this installment’s familiar characters and notice a few new ones, including the bard Jobe, who joins the Knights; they may also be interested in how magic plays a more prominent role. As in past installments, the points of view and settings jump around, and the story progresses slowly, in part, because of these shifts. The book also often presents characters’ thoughts in a clunky fashion: “Monika was not certain if she could truly love [Basha], especially when he was so attached to Jawen and had started out on this quest, after all, to retrieve Tau’s Cup for Jawen so that they could get married.” The author uses ellipses repeatedly to create tension (“She couldn’t risk everything, not even for…”; “I just want to…”), which further slows the pace. As a result, readers eager to learn the fates of Basha and Oaka may become frustrated.
A slow-paced fantasy series installment that lacks a truly climactic showdown.