River of Souls, Book 2
What is it about:
Ilse Zhalina has left to start a new life in a garrisoned fort, leagues from her estranged lover, Raul Kosenmark. The violent quarrel that ended Ilse and Raul’s relationship was quite public. And also, quite fake. They hope to mislead Kosenmark’s enemies so that he can continue to influence the politics of the kingdom in an attempt to stave off an ill-advised war, while keeping Ilse safe from royal assassins who would kill anyone Raul is close to. Ilse longs for Raul, but is set on her own quest to find one of the three fabled jewels of Lir. One of the jewels is held by King Dzavek, sworn enemy of Veraene, who has used the jewel’s power to live for centuries. Ilse seeks one of the other stones to counterbalance Dzavek’s efforts to destroy her country.
In her search, she encounters a shipwrecked prisoner from another land, a woman who has a secret of her own…and the second jewel in her keeping. The two women become allies in their quest for the third jewel, because finding and controlling these stones could mean salvation for both of their nations. And their failure the ruin of their peoples.
And I have to confess that at the start of the book I was confused a lot. Not knowing what happened in book one, who some of the characters were, and if they were good guys or bad guys, I felt adrift. This being a world where people also remember their earlier lives didn’t make it easier. But slowly I learned more about the world, the characters and what their motives were, and I was drawn into the story.
There’s a lot going on, and there are a couple of different viewpoint characters. Some I liked from the start, like Ilse, others I mistrusted. The intrigues, switching loyalties and politics in this story make that you have to keep paying attention to understand what’s going on and who is to trust.
The world building and setting were very interesting. I already mentioned that people remember past lives. This made for interesting situations where people meet someone new, but remember them from a past life. It added extra intrigue to already tense situations.
The one thing that annoyed me was the language used for magic. It was a bastardized version of German, or maybe it was very old German, but close enough to the modern German I know that it grated on me. I kept wanting to correct it. Luckily the use of the language was limited, so I could mostly ignore it.
This book ends with some major plot points solved and others still wide open. It was an ending that was both satisfying and that left me curious for the next book. Luckily the next book was already in my tbr-pile, so expect a review of it soon.
Why should you read it: