Sequel to Sword of Fire and Sea (2011), video-game designer Hoffman's venture into text fantasy.
Andovar, a world where air, fire, earth and water magic all work, is inhabited not just by humans but various tribes of gryphons, birdlike seridi, dryads, gods and what-all. Vidarian Rulorat, gifted with both fire and water magic he can't control, opened—mysteriously, especially if you haven't read the first book—a gate between worlds, thus allowing elemental magic to reawaken. Now, magically-powered flying ships roam the skies; robots built centuries ago have revived. Trade is controlled by the Alorean Import Company, most of whose directors, rendered immortal through hoarded magics, dropped dead when the gate opened. Numerous conflicts smolder. The spirit of Vidarian's oldest friend, Ruby, also killed when the gate opened and trapped inside one of the gems used to open the gate, wakes up and demands her body back. This might prove difficult, as she was buried at sea a while back. And Ariadel, Vidarian's curiously tepid lover, is pregnant and not speaking to him. Faced with war on several fronts, Emperor Lirien summons Vidarian to help out. Unfortunately Vidarian brings along his gryphon pals, upsetting the Alorean traditionalists. He's also visited by the Starhunter, a mystifying goddess who shows up without warning, quickly grows bored and murders people. Indeed, there's so much going on, not to mention the huge, underdeveloped cast, that it's very difficult to make sense of how, if, what or who are related. And despite the dazzling ideas, Hoffman hasn't mastered the skill of describing a widescreen magical battle rather than programming one.
Highly entertaining and baffling in equal measure.