Stars: 5 out of 5
I had absolutely loved the fist book (and you can read my review here), so I had picked up this book with a certain amount of trepidation. Too often the second book in a series is much weaker than the fist one, serving just as sort of filler before the grand showdown in book 3. I am happy to report that that is not the case here. The second book is just as good as the first one. I am also happy that the author decided to turn this into a duology. We get to finish the journey with all our characters and wrap up all of their paths in more or less neat fashion.
I will try to avoid spoilers, but let me just say that this book went in to a direction I wasn’t expecting at all, but that’s what made it such a fun and engaging read as well. I really didn’t know where the author would be taking the characters next, but I was so invested in their fates that I was happily along for the ride. Just be warned that the book turns rather dark at some points and things happen to both our characters and the people around them that would be considered nightmarish.
This book raises several important questions. What is the definition of self? Is self-consciousness set in stone or can it evolve over time and circumstances? What happens when two different entities merge as one? Does one effectively dominate and destroy the other? Do they share the body and take turns? Or do they blend into something new, a combination of both entities? And what makes us human? Can divinities experience love and compassion? Can they change?
It also asks the important question of how far would you go to save the person you care about. Does the desire to protect the one you love excuse the horrible things you have to do to keep them safe or to just remain by their side? Also, is the lack of compassion and a complete self-absorption the fault of a divine presence, or was it already part of the human soul that merged with it? So many important questions and so many different fates interwoven into this tory. I loved that each characters chose their own, often rather unique answer to them. Because everyone’s story is different. Just like in life.
It’s an interesting story to navigate along with Czorwe, Tal, and Shutmili, because they are all seeking answers to those questions in their own deeply personal ways. I am also glad that everyone gets a (sort of) happy ending despite all the hardships fate puts them through along the way. Especially Tal, because the poor boy has suffered enough.
All in all, it was a wonderful world that I enjoyed discovering alongside all characters. I wouldn’t mind revisiting it someday just to discover more strange worlds in the broken maze, even if the stories are told by a different set of characters. I will definitely be following this author closely and check out their new books.
PS: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.