*Image and book provided by the author for an honest review.
In this sequel to A Star-Reckoner's Lot, we follow the story of Tirdad, picking up almost exactly where the first book left off. Tirdad becomes possessed by Ashtadukht's memories and he begins a quest to discover the conspiracy started against her that turned her into the monster she became. Along the way, he develops a deep relationship with the half-div Shkarag, formerly Waray. Along the way, Tirdad must fight his own ever present depression and regret, coupled with his cousin's memories of her depression and pain.
There's a lot of reasons I'm giving this book a 5 out of 5. The characters were wonderful to read about. The dialogue had an enjoyable blend of exposition, character development and humor. The world was even more intriguing as I got to learn more about it.
It feels like there were a lot of improvements between this book and the one before it. In the previous book, the time skips would throw me off for several pages. In this book, everything flows. There was one point where Tirdad was re-living one of Ashtadukht's memories that threw me off for a bit, but to be fair, it threw him off as well. Also, the use of memories as an exposition tool really seemed to fit and, aside from that one moment, was executed really well.
What was also very endearing for me was the fact that both main characters were dealing with some pretty severe depression and in their own ways. Shkarag's philactory kept putting her back together, so suicide, self-harm and other reckless behaviors were her ways. Tirdad tries to hold onto the concept of honor to justify his actions, but ends up resorting to a lot of the same reckless behaviors as Shkarag. Then there's Ashtadukht's memories of depression that show that she resorted to lashing out at others, especially when she had no one supporting her.
The fight scenes were amazingly written and I could practically see the "dance" Tirdad and Shkarag did, working together to defeat bandits and armies. We get to see all of the Eshm sisters, each "worth 30 men", fighting alongside each other to powerful effect. And that final battle! I was fully entranced. Fair warning to anyone who is squeamish, there is a fair amount of blood and bloodlust in this book. It's not gratuitous gore, but if you're sensitive to it, it might not be your thing.
Overall, I'm very happy to read this book. This is a wonderful sequel that I actually don't think you need to have read the first one for. It might help with a few gaps, but I really feel this is a standalone sequel. 5 hoots!