Following duology opener The Great Hunt (2016), Princess Aerity and her people face another brutal threat in the form of angry Lashed citizens, who are tired of being punished for their ability to do magic.
The royal family of Lochlanach is shocked and dismayed when another bloodthirsty beast appears after the first one was killed with so much effort. Before any plans can be made to defeat the monsters and their creator, Princess Aerity flees for one last goodbye to the man she loves but cannot marry. However, the rebellion is larger and more complicated than she ever suspected, and soon she finds herself face to face with the true enemy—Rozaria Rocato. Rozaria is working with Prince Vito of Kalor, who wants the magic-working Lashed to rise up and defeat all who have oppressed them. The suppression of the Lashed by others provides a template for an exploration of the uses and drawbacks of civil unrest, though the story stays very much on the surface of the topic. Instead, a slightly predictable plot and characterizations keep the book at a superficial simmer. Higgins’ world is a mishmash of tropes, the faux British Lochlans juxtaposed against the exotic Zandalee and Kalorians, who are dark-skinned “tribesmen.” Both maidens and those who have chosen to eschew maidenhood are both chivalrously protected and bravely participatory in the battle.
A tepid, formulaic fantasy that fails to sufficiently interrogate the issues it raises. (Fantasy.13-18)