Ward, ruler of Hurog, is striving to restore his lands and people to prosperity, wanting nothing more than a quiet life. But when an old friend, escaping from High King Jakoven’s torturers, seeks refuge in his keep, Ward can no longer ignore the growing rebellion against the tyrannical High King. He realizes that he cannot stand aside - he must join with the rebels. However, Jakoven has a secret weapon with which he intends to crush the rebellion - Farsonsbane, a magical artifact that has destroyed entire cities. But first, Jakoven needs blood to awaken it. Dragon’s blood. The very blood that courses through Ward’s veins.
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The second of the Hurog duology, this novel follows four years after Dragon Bones, covering the political fallout of what happened in the first novel. The King’s writ was never rescinded so Ward gets carted off to an insane asylum and civil war looms.
Again, Mrs Briggs takes a cliché of the fantasy genre and writes it well. Her characters are skilfully portrayed, each with their own personality, strengths and weaknesses.
The story’s POV is mainly focused on Ward but occasionally jumps to Tisala, the daughter of a politically powerful rebel lord, and Garranon. It helps keep the reader in the loop of what’s going on when, but can be slightly distracting to keep pace with.
As with the first book, there were several places where the book was lacking. I didn’t bound through it like I thought I would. There was less action than I had anticipated and a lot more slow-going scenes heavy on description. The battle that was being built up to throughout was anticlimactic and the king’s younger brother was underused as a character, which is a shame as I was interested in the poor bugger who had been entombed in a small, dark room for over a decade. The reason for his imprisonment wasn’t touched on in this book, and barely mentioned in the first, and there was so little seen of his personality I fail to see the reasoning to it.
I was, in the end, quite let down by what I read. The charm the first novel had was missing in its sequel, and only my own curiosity for the characters urged me to keep reading, not the plot. It could, and should, have been stronger, more compelling. Wonderful characters deserve nothing less.
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