This sequel to Cole’s (Henry’s Re-entry, 2014, etc.) epic fantasy The Pleasure of Memory (2013) sees disparate members of an ancient order preparing for battle against a villainous fire mage.
The art of magic, which is based on the mysterious Caeyl stones, is dying out in the land of Calevia. Following the events of the previous book, the thieving rogue Beam is also dying, but luckily he has the Caeyllth Blade, which houses the rare Blood Caeyl stone. Inside a vast crypt, his friend Chance Gnoman, along with the Baeldonian giant Jhom, place the physically ravaged Beam inside a tent so that the magic stone can heal him. Elsewhere, another Baeldon named Wenzil interrogates his captive, the Vaemysh Mawby, and learns that they are both members of the Lamys te’Faht (the Eye of the Faithful), part of a lineage of cleric knights who await signs of impending dark times. According to the occult order’s legends, the rise of a Fire Caeyl Mage will herald the end of civilization and the return of the Divinic Demons. It turns out that Prae the Biled, Chance’s nemesis, is that mage, and it’s up to the Lamys te’Faht to halt his demonic army. Sibling smugglers Lucifeus and Malevolus, however, have already caught some Vaemysh trackers on their lands who appear to be demonically possessed, which escalates the war. This second volume of Cole’s saga, like the first, uses dialogue-heavy chapters to illuminate the meticulously crafted corners of his world; one of the most thrilling tells of the exorcism of a demon being. The difference in this installment is that the stakes have risen sharply, and fantasy readers should strap in for a dark, twisted ride—even if most of the narrative merely sets up a potentially more intense third volume. Cole’s prose is evocative, as always; he describes Beam’s injuries, for example, as a “torn map of flesh.” There are also great philosophical moments, as when Wenzil says, “Hope’s a deep well....Sometimes there’s water at the bottom, sometimes there just ain’t.” The very best chapters deal with Beam’s inward journey and expose the startling history of Calevia. Overall, this book offers great rewards for Cole’s loyal readers.
A weird, wonderful installment of a fantasy saga that’s inching toward greatness.