This is the sequel to one of my favorite fantasy novels of the last few years, All the Paths of Shadow by Frank Tuttle (my review here). Unfortunately I didn’t like it as much as the first book.
The story continues the adventures of Meralda, the Royal mage of Tirlin, and her faithful sidekick Mug, a talking plant with 29 eyes. In this tale, they follow their king’s order, against Meralda’s best judgment, and board a huge airship bound for Hang (a land across the Great Sea) for a royal funeral.
About 40% of the book takes place before the ship’s departure, and I loved that part. It was extremely funny and continued Meralda’s escapades in the same low-key, personal way as the first book.
Then she boards the ship, and the tone changes dramatically. Suddenly there is huge and malevolent magic at play, the stakes become standard – world doom, no less – and Meralda isn’t herself anymore. Instead of the charming, no-nonsense girl-magician with a penchant for mathematics and common sense aplenty, she becomes something god-like and aloof, all power but almost no humanity.
She seems to be sick with this magical malady, which makes her dangerous to everyone and everything around her, including the ship, but she doesn’t warn anyone of the dangers. She and her team keep the secret, while the helpless ship struggles to sail across the sky, battling storms and mythical apparitions, with a screwy magician on board.
Even Mug’s journal entries, included in the narration for humorous effect, can’t make up for the tedium of the long, involved explanations of the magical feats and super-exaggerated perils.
Many characters from the first book make an appearance here, but none develops further, none becomes alive, not even the protagonist Meralda. The only more-or-less living person in the book is Mug, the plant.
Overall, I was disappointed. The first part of the book deserved 5 stars. The second part – about 2.5 stars, so I averaged it to 3.5.
Note: It seems that all my reviews imported here from GR, when I first joined BL, are not considered parts of my blog. My review for the first book of the series, All the Paths of Shadow, which I wrote before I joined BL, isn't even included in the book page for this book. Has anyone noticed the phenomena? Or is it only me?