In this second installment, the dairne Byx’s quest is far from over.
Applegate continues her otherworldly saga in this second installment of the Endling series. (Yes, the second book is called The First, while the first book was called The Last. Just go with it.) Here readers follow doglike Byx and her companions—humans Khara and Renzo, catlike Gambler, and the small and furry Tobble—as they attempt to find the traveling island of Tarok and, they hope, more dairnes, saving Byx from being the last of her species. Along the way, Applegate shifts focus from the first outing and uses Byx’s narration to explore Khara’s transition from a young girl to a leader. This change serves the story well, pulling readers further into the political turmoil of the land. The current reigning dictator, the Murdano, will soon be under attack by the no-less-vicious Kazar Sg’drit, who is enslaving other sentient species in his quest to build an army. Against this backdrop, Khara must rise as a leader and raise an army to stop a war even as Byx evolves from a pup to a leader in her own right. Themes of conservation, war, and human trafficking are skillfully interwoven into a world of magic and wonder. This second installment will have readers salivating for a third. Khara is explicitly described as having brown skin; absence of such specificity implies Renzo’s white.
Simply sublime. (Fantasy. 8-12)