The second book in Bowen’s (The Smiling Stallion Inn, 2013) Legends of Arria high-fantasy series.
This latest installment picks up where the previous one left off. Adoptive brothers Basha and Oaka, accompanied by their teacher and protector Sir Nickleby, are on a quest to retrieve Tau’s Cup so that Basha may fulfill his promise to marry a young woman named Jawen. But trouble lurks in the wilderness, as Doomba and his followers seek to stop the teenage brothers. When wolves attack, Sir Nickleby sacrifices himself to save the boys. Fato, a talking messenger falcon, then joins the pair on their journey and, later, two young women—Monika, whom the boys know from their home town of Coe Baba, and Gnat, an escaped servant girl—become part of the group. Together, they learn that they share a connection to the legendary Knights of Arria as they struggle to fight off enemies and continue their quest. Meanwhile, back in Coe Baba, the villagers (and especially the boys’ parents) worry about the young men. When soldiers pursuing Basha and Oaka invade Coe Baba, things come to a head. Action, danger and a large cast of characters keep this story moving swiftly along. However, the main players tend toward introspection and indecision, which can occasionally bog things down, as does occasionally clunky phrasing (“The action long since over, and the smell having alerted them to what to expect so that they might steel themselves, meant that they weren’t quite as shocked as they might have been, if they had come to a fight like this unawares as participants”). The first book in the series will give readers a clearer understanding of the events in this installment, but this sequel can be read as a stand-alone—even if the tale of Basha and Oaka is far from over at its conclusion.
An often exciting adventure about a quest for a legendary object and a group of young people who come to realize their great power and responsibility.