The second installment of a fantasy series that continues the exploration of the byzantine city of Grimpkin and the renewed trials of the story’s engaging heroine.
This novel continues in the dense, deliberate, evocative style of its predecessor, Dominion (2010). Opening in the dankness of a cell and amid the alchemical smells of the great city of Grimpkin, no time is wasted in re-incanting this atmospheric world for readers. From the sights of the Goliath, a darker, parallel vision of the Colossus of Rhodes, and the cacophony of the Goblin Knight Inn, these spaces function as perfect canvasses for the attentive prose that adorns every page. Most important, though, is the return of Lakif, a member of the Acaanan race, most hated by humans. She sets her sights initially on the Vulcan, a dark, fiery region, in a vain attempt to release the burden of the Rare Earth Stone that entraps the heart of her mother. But even the massive, masterful blacksmiths of the region cannot penetrate the mystical mineral. Chestney concisely explores somewhat more contemporary, satiric and mature themes here, as when Lakif finds herself in the languid lounge of a group of pederast philosophers who take the light, lovely Lakif for a young boy. It’s a brief episode where little changes for Lakif, but some tonal changes feel too unexpected not to be awkward, as when Lakif must protest that she is not a homosexual. However, it’s part of the broader indebtedness to the classics that Chestney delights in. The story is deeply episodic, and sometimes this density of encounters is overwhelming. But with every plot point so lovingly rendered and Lakif’s inner-life pored over with sympathy, her potentially penultimate journey is rarely as difficult for the reader as it is for her. As with most fantasy series, the endings are revelatory, but not to the point where readers aren’t left waiting and wanting that final denouement. This novel ends with the whispers of new adventure, and if the series continues as is, readers surely won’t be disappointed.
An unusually satisfying sequel that maintains and expands the evocation and drama of the saga.