Steampunk mechanic and former handmaiden Vivienne seeks the Holy Grail and her true love, Marcus, in this sequel to Camelot Burning (2014).
With Arthur dead, Guinevere gone, and the knights dispersed, Camelot is a ghost town. Vivienne toils in Merlin’s ruined mechanical workshop, missing her mentor and her (chaste) boyfriend, until an unexpected alliance allows her to finish her aeroship and set out on a convoluted quest. Vivienne soon locates the Fisher King and reunites with Marcus, but she also becomes a target for the Black Knight—here, a Spanish rogue with a mind-reading mechanical eye—due to her knowledge of Avalon’s coordinates. Vivienne’s melodramatic relationship with Marcus brings welcome depth to otherwise flat characters primarily defined by their destinies. Action is abundant, but the life-or-death stakes are undermined by the impermanence of death in this amalgamated world. The arbitrary separation between Middle Eastern–derived mechanical arts and British-born magic—centered on the “science” of alchemy—blurs as Vivienne dabbles with spells and duels with demigods. Rose aims for but fails to capture either the magic of Arthurian legends or the logic of steampunk: Arthurian elements (names, settings, plotlines, and religion) are superficial, while the steampunk core (inventions, empire, and fashion) falters in a nonindustrial, feudal time period.
An incongruous blend of medieval mythology and steampunk action; only for fans of the first book. (Fantasy. 14-18)