November 2009, Orbit
406 pages, Paperback (
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
*looks at the book, not wanting to give anything away*. This book is AWESOME! I loved the first one, but this one whirled me away to a world where people can't be trusted, where the characters have enormous strength when facing harsh trials.
Everyone's story is continued here - apart from those who got killed in the first book. The magisters discover Kamala's existence, and wish to kill her. They nearly achieve that goal, but she manages to escape. Part of me wonders if she wishes she hadn't, because she discovers the soul eaters.
Although her son Salvator is set to be the new King, Gwynofar's life is still chaotic. Her son's popularity isn't guaranteed, so she has to undertake a bargain or two on his behalf. He is oblivious to this. He focuses on his coronation, which he rightly should. I liked how the idea of a monk, whose beliefs are quite different to the kingdom he must rule, was portrayed in the lead up to the coronation. Salvator knows the duty he is taking on, and I believe he'll do an okay job. He isn't naive, can speak his mind, and can also be taken in a bit by a pretty face.
Mothers truly do a lot of work behind the scenes which children will never find out. I can honestly say that I never expected to find her scaling a tower in enemy territory. Or that she'd watch yet more people she cares for suffer. She's an active queen, who is high on my list of favourite protagonists. I only wish she didn't have to suffer so much herself in this installment. It is for the good of her people, and the trials bring out the strength of her character.
These same people are beginning to relive the horrors of the past with the Souleaters. They are no mere legends. They are real, and their lives provide a few startling revelations. They are not quite the savage creatures I thought they were - they are vicious, but they actually have a form of interaction with humans. This was a great plot twist, and I'm looking forward to further development in the next book. I admit that I felt sorry for a Souleater at one particular moment in the story, a moment which had me actually like the Witch-Queen Siderea. Until then I didn't like her or trust her one iota. There is compassion within her heart, one which surprised me. Even if it was forced through a bit of deception, it is there.
The theme which rang out loudest from the test was this: what happens when a person's faith is shaken? When they are provided proof that all they believed in (or nearly all) is a lie? This happened in a video game I completed recently (I'd played it before), and I enjoyed the characters reactions to this. It had me in tears - I could feel the characters spirits break. (They do make some recovery, it isn't all doom and gloom). The proof is shocking, and not for the faint hearted.
Make sure you check out book one - Feast of Souls.
Celia Friedman can be found here.