In this sequel, the survivors of a goblin battle continue their journey to a port city where an even greater evil awaits.
A warrior named Ohlen and his companions, who all have special skills, fought a horde of goblins to rescue some captive villagers. Now the six friends, including Arden, Boudreaux, Gnome, Ruprecht, and she-elf X’andria, are desperate for rest to recoup their strength. On their way to the city of Rockmoor, they visit a mystic healer, Magda, to treat Arden’s battle-scarred face. But Magda instead offers a warning, cryptically citing an impending “dark storm” and “evil terror.” Believing his cohorts need time for improving their abilities, Ohlen separates from them. In Rockmoor, the five remaining friends train intensely: Gnome hones his stealth under a master thief’s schooling while X’andria studies magic. Ohlen unfortunately gets a taste of the accursed evil destined to befall the group when a reanimated corpse attacks him. The evil soon makes its presence known to all, as Arden hurries from an unseen pursuer and someone in the band disappears. The seemingly invisible villain wants something specific from Ohlen and company, pitting them against vile creatures, from rat abominations in the sewer to a much more formidable monster. Hinsley’s (Tinder & Flint, 2016) exhilarating fantasy novel is a tireless array of action and atmosphere. Flashbacks, for example, like Gnome’s startling first encounter with magic, are precise without slowing the narrative. The steady momentum is coupled with constant allusions to forthcoming peril, even Boudreaux’s excessive drinking: “With each cup of the dark golden brew, the pointy edges of worry about their current predicament became duller.” Garretsen’s illustrations harmonize with the prose; images give the impression of having been carved onto a black matte, bestowing the “roiling sea” with the ominous “inky blackness” Hinsley aptly details at one point. Each of the six main characters is spotlighted, though the players are at their best—and most entertaining—when the group is assembled. The story ends with a thorough wrap-up and a Book 3 teaser.
A tight, action-packed fantasy bursting with vigor.