Stars: 4 out of 5.
This was better than the first book, even though the narrative is still a bit meandering at times which makes it rather confusing. However the story is rather fascinating, so I was willing to excuse the less than tight writing style.
We discover a lot more about the past of Elantra and about one of the secretive immortal races that calls this city home – the Barrani. I found this foray into Barrani culture fascinating. How would you live your immortal life if your name truly defines you? Not only that, but it gives whoever knows it power over you as well. So much power that they can compel you to do horrible things. What choice do you have when you know that the only way to escape this influence is death, but you are immortal?
I find the world of Elantra fascinating. And yes, I’m aware that I used the world “fascinating” at least three times since the beginning of this review. We have a whole civilization living on the ruins of another, much older one. And those ruins are still imbued with magic which is often dangerous. Some of them serve as prisons to beings that should never see the light of day if this new civilization is to survive and thrive.
For example, the High Lord of the Barrani isn’t just an empty title that anyone can hold. That person needs to have sufficient power to serve as jailer to something burried underneath the High Court. Something even the Dragon Emperor fears. The location isn’t vanity. It’s necessity.
Or the ceremony of becoming a Lord of the Court? On the surface, it’s just an exercise in vanity as well. A riddle to be solved for the dubious honor to call these ancient halls home. The price of failure, however, is worse than death, as it turns out.
The more I read about this world, the more I want to know. And I especially want to know how the markings on Kaylin’s body tie into all this. What role will she have to play in what seems to be the continuation of an ancient war between immortal races and forces far more terrible, but long forgotten?
I admit that I am less fond of Kaylin herself than I am of the world she inhabits. For someone who has been through all the horrible things she had lived through, she surprisingly lacks maturity. I know, she is only 18 or so in these books, but sometimes she behaves like a petulant teen who lacks the brains to think her actions and reactions through before she does something. Though I must admit that I see some improvement between Kaylin in book 1 and Kaylin in book 2, so I am holding out hope that she will grow and mature as the series progresses, and hopefully not get on my nerves as much.
As it stands though, I am definitely continuing with the series, because I want to learn more about this fascinating world.