The survivors of the first book complete a few quests for the Eastern Wizard, while making new enemies.
The Last Renshai and his allies must restore balance to the north, by dethroning a corrupt king and Colbey begins to exhibit some unusual powers. This book is not as epic or fast paced as the first book, but it's still good. The characters are well developed and the story flows at a pretty good pace. There's action, intrigue, strong characters, demons, and a deep plot with a few surprises.
The characters in the story all have clear motivations for their actions and these motivations often set them on collision courses that cannot be avoided. There are immortal wizards, warriors, kings, gladiators, hunters, and townsfolk. There's good dialogue and the characters all have some personality and mannerisms. They all have a fair amount of depth and respond emotionally to the events around them (instead of simply being plot devices with names.) You like them and want to root for them. They also grow as people as the story progresses.
This is a world based on Norse Mythology with Odin, Hel, Valhalla, etc... But each clan has its own beliefs and each race has their own gods. The world is run by four immortal wizards who can only be killed by magic swords or demons. These wizards serve the gods and must guide mankind according to ancient prophecies. There is just a hint of magic in the world because these four wizards are the only ones who can use magic. The rest of the action takes place on the battlefield with swords. The kingdom is composed of many different tribes and clans, grounded in their own beliefs. There is enough detail here to let you understand the background of each of the clans without slowing down the plot.
The writing style is fast paced and covers quite a bit in a few pages. It's impressive how the world has depth, the characters seem real, the action is great, and the plot twists and turns without slowing down. A few of the scenes could have been more epic, more emotional, more descriptive, but that's my only minor complaint about the entire book.
There are fist fights, battles, wars, skirmishes, assassins, cavalry, epic sword fights, and duels. You can visualize all of the fight scenes and they're well written. This isn't one of those (insert action scene here) books. The fights are driven by the characters and their place in the story, and these battles do have dire consequences. It's pretty action packed cover to cover.
Maturity: Older Teens
This is a violent book with a body count of over 1000, and there are some mild sex scenes. The swearing is done in character, so shouting the name of a certain god constitutes swearing. But nothing is too graphic or profane.
This book has everything. deep characters in a complex, fast paced story, with twists and turns. It has themes of family, friendship, duty, courage... It's really good. If you enjoyed the first book, you should enjoy this book as well.
Buy it if you like Norse Mythology and barbarian sword battles.
Buy it if you like an original story with twists and turns.
Buy it if you like action.
Avoid this book if you need high fantasy like dragons, undead, and fireball throwing wizards. (These wizards are more like strategists)
Avoid this book if you need simple black and white characters where the good guys are pure good and the bad guys are pure evil.
If you enjoyed this book, read something by David Gemmell!
Legend, The Lion of Macedon, Sword in the Storm, or Winter Warriors.