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Not as focused as the first book
on 3 January 2017
The second book in the series is not as focused as the first.
The characters are still realistic, and changing with the experiences they've faced and find themselves facing. The magic system is still interesting. In fact, we learn about even more areas of it. The stakes are still very high - with the possibility of hundreds and thousands of people dying in large-scale battles. Religions are even twisted around and reinterpreted, with mystical forces behind them. All of this is great fantasy.
What I disliked was that the number of monotonous and very technical battles increased. These fights didn't add to the plot in any meaningful way and, though carefully choreographed and thought through in terms of the magic system, they weren't interesting. As large swathes of the book were dedicated to these meaningless, blow-by-blow spars and siege political discussions, I found myself less swept away in the tale than the first book and more hoping I would finally get to some action.
This apathy wasn't helped when a traitor is known to be in the midst of the group and yet the main character continually fails to do anything about it. She'll 'check' one person one month, then another the next. This should be her top priority! Yet, I didn't see any reason given for why she wasn't fulfilling this responsibility. As a result, some of the consequences of this decision failed to move me as much as they could have and made me feel that the book was padded out.
Also, there's a love triangle. It felt completely out of place in the otherwise serious tone of the book, and it was pointless. Insecure girl - check. Stupid boy - check. Arrogant genius - check. Great for a romance novel. Here - not so much. It added to the padding issue and was probably included to make the long siege segment more interesting. Didn't work out that way for me.
Overall, I think the story was saved by the last fifth of the book. This is where the action really heats up and every chapter has something going on in terms of the core plot. I will still be reading the third book as I felt that many new possibilities are open to be explored and a great adversary must be met. I hope to see less filler in the finale.