Prejudice against magic and the secret powermongering of a goddess continue to have repercussions in the second installment of a high fantasy trilogy.
The goddess Akosh’s existence depends on worshipers, and her chosen devotees are orphans. Therefore, she must continue to stir up war and chaos to create more of them. But her stoking of hatred against magic users, which ultimately led to the destruction of the Red Tower, a school for mages, is attracting unwanted attention from vengeful mages, law enforcement officers and governments of multiple countries, and her fellow divine beings, who have sworn not to intervene in mortal concerns. Can she and her network of followers survive the onslaught of the many parties determined to shut them down? And what of the anonymous god who has offered her an alliance; might accepting his help prove more dangerous than refusing it? Meanwhile, the young survivors of the Red Tower seek various new paths, some avenging themselves against the nonmagical people who hate and fear them, one falling under the sway of an ambitious politician, and others forming a community of magic users who at first try to remain secret but ultimately can’t help interfering in the local bandit situation despite the ingratitude of those they rescue. This book is blessedly freer than the prior volume of clunky attempts to associate the story’s issues and events with contemporary political and social problems, other than a relatively well-done exploration of the poisonous consequences of prejudice and how it can be exploited for gain. This is a fairly solid middle volume, with good action sequences, plausible character development, and enough dangling plotlines to motivate the reader to pick up the conclusion. One might certainly hope that Book 3 will clarify the currently murky motivations of Garvey, a mage who deliberately set himself up as a villain.
A relatively strong offering that should appeal both to those who like their fantasy cynical and those who prefer it sentimental.