In the follow-up to Pool’s (Catlorian: Savon’el, 2016) fantasy debut, various bands of warriors try to thwart evil beings intent on destroying the world of Ta’el.
An old scribe entrusts Lord Dekion DeLough to liberate a group of slaves, whose wizard captor has forced them to work in a temple’s mines. The mission, which entails removing two artifacts that provide the sorcerer’s power, will be carried out by a motley group that includes sorceress Lilith; elven Huntsmaster Taofey Eth’nerhan; and shape-shifter Tisha, who’s linked to her “saola sister,” Sharna, a black tiger. There are further atrocities in other lands—and other temples—but a particularly traumatic event of late is the assassination of King Jon DeLonge of Catlorian, as well as other members of the royal family (although the missing prince and princess are only presumed dead). Elf Morgan DeVilleforte and her adopted human brother, Damon, among others, set out to find whomever hired the king’s killer. They confront giants and fanged beasts known as gualu while occasionally encountering ravaged villages, their inhabitants enslaved like so many others. The venomous Lord Banshe’e may be behind the killings and slavery, but will his death vanquish the evil? Pool drops readers right into the story at the outset of the novel. There’s a lot that’s happening, but the narrative generally concentrates on one mission at a time, making the book sometimes resemble a collection of short stories. The characters are easy to envision and tell apart (thanks to constant reminders of who’s Halfling and who’s dwarf), and there are plenty of familiar creatures such as trolls, dragons, and golems. The different storylines feature myriad characters—some new, some returning from the first installment—and shifting protagonists, including Tao, Morgan, and even a mage named Rene’, who first appears well past the book’s halfway point. The abundant dialogue is breezy, largely free of obscenities, and often droll: when Damon says he’ll help only if he’s paid, Morgan notes dryly, “That’s noble of you.”
Colorful characters populate a lively and jam-packed ongoing saga.