8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2004
The second book in the Second Sons trilogy keeps up with the quality delivered in "The Lion of Senet". The story evolves nicely and keeps the reader on his toes the whole time. As happened in the previous book, I was surprised by the hate and anger some of the characters generated in me and how I cheered for others with passion. I would imagine that most people experience similar emotions and find this read riveting and almost impossible to suspend.
The story resumes two years after the events that took place at the end of book one. Dirk Provin, one of the main characters in the story, is a fugitive and his mother's husband, Wallin, has just died. His half-brother Rees is the new Duke of Elcast and is supporting Dirk's enemy, the Lion of Senet. Meanwhile, Dirk's mother, Morna, is in dire-straits, since the death of her husband left her at the mercy of the Lion of Senet and the High Priestess (Belagren). Morna knows that there must be an explanation for the things she knows about her son, which are that Dirk raped a Shadowdancer and that he killed his father Johan Thorn and then fled, but it is hard for her to imagine what this explanation is.
Antonov, the Lion of Senet, wants to control Dhevyn, so he is going to get his son, Kirshov, married to Alenor, the princess of Dhevyn and Dirk's cousin. Antonov strongly believes in the Goddess; he even killed his newborn son when a sacrifice was required to end the Age of the Shadows. Belagren convinced him to do so by telling him that the Goddess had spoken to her, but in reality, she found out that the era was going to finish with the help of a genius called Neris Veran. The problem for Belagren now is that Neris created a labyrinth that holds the secrets of when the next Age of Shadows is due, and of course Belagren needs this information if she wants people to keep believing in the Goddess and in Belagren being her chosen one.
Then we have Tia Veran, Neris' daughter, who is hoping that Dirk will be able to find the secrets her father holds relative to the Age of the Shadows and use that information to bring down Belagren and quench Senet's power. Neris is having a great time with this, which represents a break from his routine and the chance of having a sharp mind like Dirk's around him. Therefore, he tells things to Dirk in a very subtle way, surrounding his information with riddles and puzzles.
I have already moved forward to the last book in the trilogy, taking advantage of the fact that when the first book was published in the US, the whole series was already written. I am willing to bet that most of you will feel the urge to start the third book right away, since the suspense will torture you otherwise. Fallon has passed her second test with marks as high as those she achieved with the first book and I am confident the third book will not dissapoint either!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2004
Jennifer Fallon really made her mark with Lion of Senet, giving us wonderful characters and a very interesting epic plot. Book two of the Second Sons Trilogy is Eye of the Labyrinth, and the question is: can she keep it up? We already have over 500 pages of it, and we're only a third of the way done. The answer is yes. Eye of the Labyrinth is even better then Lion of Senet, mainly because the action is already under way. The book is so full of people plotting against each other that they make Machiavelli look like a reasonably nice guy. Of course, that's part of the book's charm.
After the chilling events toward the end of Lion of Senet, Dirk Provin, the second son of the Duke of Elcast, is hiding out with King Johan's people, the man who had to die in order to save them. Dirk is feeling tremendous guilt, and while everybody there seems to accept him, there is one woman, Tia, who refuses to trust him. She sees him as nothing but a spoiled rich brat who will betray them to the Lion of Senet as soon as he's able to. Meanwhile, to bring Dirk out into the open, the Lion intends to execute Dirk's mother now that the Duke has died and his protection of her is gone. The rescue attempt reveals long-buried hatreds, schemes, and may even bring down a religion, as false as it is. It's not only the Lion who wants Dirk, however. The High Priestess Belagren also wants him, because only he can tell her when the Second Sun will go away again. If she can't accurately predict it, her religion will go up in smoke as belief falls away. But Dirk has plans of his own, and nobody can see what they are.
I said in my review of Lion of Senet that I couldn't put that book down. Unfortunately, I had to because of work and other things to do during the week. I started Eye of the Labyrinth late on a Friday night, and I was done by Sunday afternoon. This book I could literally not put down, and I raced through it because I had to know what happened next. All of the characters are so detailed and three-dimensional that only a series this big could contain them. Dirk spends most of the book only hinting at what his plans are, and nothing is ever what it seems. Years have passed by the end of the book, and most of the younger characters have grown and changed a lot in that time. There's Princess Alenor of the kingdom of Dhevyn, who has loved Prince Kirshov (the Lion's second son) since arrived in Senet as a prisoner, and who has known ever since then that Kirsh would be her husband and regent eventually. She undergoes a massive change as she realizes that Kirsh will never love her, and has lost his heart to Marqel, a girl who will do anything and sleep with anybody to get the power she craves. Alenor shows a lot of courage when she faces Kirsh down on their wedding night, as well as deciding that she would join the plotting of Dirk's friends against the Lion.
All of the characters are this good and it's impossible to single any particularly good character out. It's far easier to point out one weakness. Once again, it's Marqel. She is truly power-hungry, murdering at the drop of a hat when it suits her whims. That particular aspect of the character is fine, as we have seen and enjoyed completely amoral characters before. However, she becomes quite annoying to read about at times as she continually schemes and has internal dialogues where she details what those schemes will be. I found the character to be believable, but I don't think that she was written very well.
The only other fault in this otherwise flawless novel is Tia. She's a good character and I do like her, but it got old to hear Tia internally telling herself that she can't trust Dirk or that she can't believe that everybody else is trusting him. The repetition serves a purpose as the events of the novel pan out, but it really began to grate on my nerves whenever she was in the story. What happens to her is tragic and I really felt for her, but I also cringed because I knew it would just cause more of the same. Hopefully the third book will have her toned down a bit, but I'm not holding my breath.
I can't say enough about the plotting or the prose, however. Fallon has a way with words that makes you want to keep reading, and her plot just draws you in so tightly that you can't break free. Perhaps there are a couple more coincidences then are believable (which creates a couple of very predictable scenes), but overall the book is full of surprises. Fallon avoids the cliché of the dramatic rescue and instead uses the failure of that rescue to move the plot forward. There are a couple of opportunities for Fallon to fall prey to this, but she only does it when it's right for the story. The schemes of all the characters can make you dizzy at times, but you just have to pay attention. It isn't that difficult as long as you don't skim the book. As you watch the schemes unfold, and watch the characters change things on the fly as circumstances make the ground underneath them shake, you'll have a lot of fun.
Fallon has created a wonderful world and a neat set of characters to inhabit it. Hopefully Lord of the Shadows will bring it all to a satisfying conclusion. I know I'm holding my breath for the finale.
on 2 May 2010
As I have already read all three books in this trilogy, it's a bit difficult to really dissociate the events of this on in particular. However, the other good reviews can tell you about that.
This second book seems to be about the other people than Dirk. We follow more of the secondary characters, reading about their life as well as their implication and their judgment on Dirk's actions.
The book is clearly better than the first one.
First, there is no need to introduce the subject, so the story begin immediately.
Second, the characters are older, which made it easier for me to relate myself to them.
And finally, it may just be an impression, but I think that the pace is accelerating, and we are right in the middle of the main plot introduced in book 1.
So, if you have liked the first one, don't wait to read this one! If not, well... You should pass on this book...