on 29 July 2015
Book – Betrayal in the Highlands (Riddle in Stone #2)
Author – Robert Evert
Star rating - ★★★★★
Plot – great – very intriguing and unpredictable
Characters – just as good as book 1
Movie Potential - ★★★★★
Ease of reading – very easy to read
Cover - Perfect
Suitable Title - Yes
Would I read it again - Yes
After being gifted book 1 by the author, in Nov 2013. At the time, I loved it, but books 2 and 3 weren't available. Then, when they were, I didn't have the time to read them.
I re-read book 1 last week, just finished book 2 and I'm ready to delve straight into book 3 tonight.
First off, I love that the story picks up straight from the end of book 1. Riddle of Stone left us wondering where the story could go, what would happen and who would survive into the next book.
I absolutely love Edmund, but that's nothing new. He and Pond are incredible characters and there's such a bromance going on between them that is adorable, but also shows their character even more. They're stronger together, always have each other's back and I love the fact that they're still together, after everything they'd been through in the pits.
As for the new characters, Abby is a great addition. Feisty and independent, I really like that she's strong, but has moments of vulnerability and a hidden past that will be interesting to explore in book 3. I just know there's more to the story of her relationship with her father than she's letting on. But that's the genius of Robert Evert's writing. You know there's more to come, but you don't mind waiting for it, because you know it's going to be exciting and incredible.
I sadly miss Thorax, who was a great character, even though she was a dog. But I always knew there was something special about her and that's only proven true, when Becky comes into Edmund's life, as her replacement. Becky, however, is crazy! Wild, uncontrollable and she's like Thorax on steroids.
I also really appreciate that Ed hasn't moved on from Molly too easily. His feelings for her still haunt him, which is wonderful. So many stories move from one love interest to another, with each new book, but Evert hasn't done this. He's stuck with his guns; Molly as the love interest in book 1, Molly as the main love interest in book 2, though there's a new addition of a possible love interest, too.
I LOVE that Kravel and Gurding are included, too, because they're great baddies.
I think that Fatty Moron has to be my favourite new character, although I do love the smaller characters that appear when they reach Rood. The beauty of Fatty is that he doesn't speak, but he has soooo much to say. He's like a mirror into Edmund's past and a vision of what he could have become, had he not left Rood for his adventure. He's everything that Edmund doesn't want to be reminded of, but he still goes out of his way to save him and gives up a precious item that he dreamed of giving to Molly. The sacrifice is huge, inspired by Abby, but it's also a symbol of his compassion. Fatty's situation is so abhorrent to Edmund, that even sacrificing the precious gift is worth saving Fatty's life.
The way that Fatty interacts with the other characters is incredible. Though he doesn't speak, he communicates in his own way. He adores Abby, takes instant control of Becky, training her the way that neither Ed or Pond could, and finds his bravery from the way Ed, Pond and Abby treat him.
I'm a little sad that Edith turned out to be something I never expected, but at the same time, it's a really great twist. I had hoped, with her being a librarian, that she would be a great love interest for Edmund, but I think I love the new twist better.
As I said, I love that we came straight into the action. The story takes place shortly after book 1, with the same trouble and fight facing Edmund and Pond. We're straight back into the action from page one and there's none of this false 'comfort zone' that some action books offer. The enemy is still hot on their trail, still out for blood and determined to catch their prey. There's no relief from the chase or false sense of security.
It's the same story, the same fight, with a new twist and recurring characters that make book 2 feel like it's simply an extension of book 1. It's more like a new chapter than a brand new book, which I love.
I also really like the way that Edmund uses his knowledge of literature and history, to save their skins, again and again. He always comes up with a new plan, a new attempt to save them. Although it doesn't always seem easy or feasible, he always pulls it off in the end. And although his stutter has improved from book 1, it's not been cured and I love that. The stutter and his missing eye, make Edmund real and individual. He's changed, but he's still fundamentally the same person on the inside.
Without giving too much away, I'm really happy that the troll was brought back into the story and that Ed and Pond got back into his cave, to see that book again. I was waiting to find out if that would be important or just a tool for Ed to recognise the importance of the second book with the same runes, that he used in book 1, to find the tower after being in Eryn Mas.
The entire development of the plot is exciting. Not only do we know that the past is going to clash with Ed's present and possibly haunt him to the very last page, but it's made clear that he'd got new struggles to face, too. He and Pond stick together through it all, fighting every fight, facing every foe and discussing each adventure together, as equal partners.
The adventure is riveting and so different to book 1. While I loved Edmund's experience in the pits, the experiences of this book – travelling, Dardenello, Long Ravine and Rood – are so well plotted and experienced, that it felt almost as if I was there. I love the detail of the world, further explored by Edmund's adventures and the danger of each adventure.
I also love the events that happen in Rood, near the end of the book. I love the way that everything seems to come together and it becomes really exciting to see how that's going to lead into book 3. The cliffhanger of the last few pages was just incredible and exciting. I didn't see it coming.
There were so many moments where I whooped and giggled, cringed and fist-pumped my way through the story. And, sadly, I can't tell you why. I won't ruin the surprise for you. But trust me, read the book and you won't regret it. I couldn't put it down!
“You know,” Pond said, yawning. “It's amazing what I can tolerate now. Before I found my way into the goblins' loving care, I was afraid of mice and rats. Couldn't stand to be dirty, either. Now look at me.”
“You're a pillar of courage and filth,” Edmund said.
“In every book and in every tale, people trying to escape from someplace always leave before dawn.”