The second volume of Marillier’s Dark Ages fantasy picks up right where the first (Shadowfell, 2012) left off.
Neryn’s time among the rebels has left her stronger and healthier but no closer to grasping her power and becoming a true Caller. When a potential ally sets a time limit for rebelling against tyrannical King Keldec, Neryn can no longer hide and sets off to find the Hag of the Isles and the Lord of the North. As in the first volume, the fantasy stands rooted in the folklore of the British Isles; the details of time and place ring true, and even the magical folk come across as commonplace despite being limned in power. If the first volume’s thematic scope concerned how to move past the tragedies and privations of one’s past, this one looks at the things one must let go of for the greater good: If Neryn and Flint love each other, they may doom the rebellion, but denying human connection is a high price to pay for peace. By the end, more pieces have fallen into place—including a hint that there’s a worse villain yet to come—and the slow start has given way to a sad, satisfying ending.
Marillier’s many fans will be pleased to see the threads continue to unroll and will eagerly anticipate the battle to come. (map) (Historical fantasy. 13 & up)