I reviewed Royal Exile, the first book of the Valisar Trilogy, 2 months ago. When I finished and put down the book, I felt (or maybe I hoped) that there were more to be discovered in this story in terms of depth. If I had had the second book in my library at that time then I would have started it straightaway.
Well... I'm glad to see that my instincts weren't wrong. Tyrant's Blood definitely raises the bar. Fiona McIntosh's usual smooth style coupled with a better-developed storyline creates an easy-to-read page-turner.
Because the story is more mature, requiring fewer introductions, the multiple story lines are more captivating than the first book. I find the sections, switching between various story threads, well balanced, pushing the reader constantly forward. Additionally, the characters are further developed, some becoming more irritating and some more surprising. But the two things that I enjoyed the most were the unexpected twists and the magic system.
Yes! Even though, in the beginning, it looks like McIntosh is preparing us some fantasy clichés, she twists the story to create more than one surprising moments, including the end of the book. I really enjoyed these turns of events. Additionally, we learn more about the magic system in Tyrant's Blood. It is not that unusual to read about a system where magic is costly to its wielder however McIntosh creates an interesting derivative that's not so clear-cut. Furthermore she tells us more about the Valisar magic.
Tyrant's Blood was a page-turner for me. I really enjoyed it and needless to say I'm looking forward to the last installment. One thing that I'd like to recommend is for you to consider the first two books as one and read them together. And if the next book is better than Tyrant's Blood then it's going to be a hell of an ending.