A rare, good "middle book" in an excellent trilogy (A Book Swede Review),
This review is from: The Isle Of Battle: Book Two in the Swans' War Trilogy (Hardcover)
The Isle of Battle starts off directly after the hectic events of The One Kingdom (9/10) , and it starts off fast! Sean Russell provides a kind of synopsis to the previous events -- very useful, as throughout the book, no reprieve is given to the reader, with Russell constantly moving from scene to scene with an almost fierce abandon.
The story in The Isle of Battle is more developed, as is to be expected, and a sense of pettiness, almost, is established at the lesser events -- it becomes very clear that much more is at stake that the honour or ancient enmity of two Houses, as mighty powers rage for control of their land.
As for characterisation, I really liked the importance Lord Carral was given in this book, and I felt he developed well, particularly after suffering the news of what he thought was his daughter's death. Unknown -- at least, for a little while -- to everyone, is that his daughter still lives and has struck a bargain with one of the children of Wyrr ...
...And that's not good.
The Stillwater is one of my favourite locations for a show-down in any book I've read. On one of the "hidden roads" is where it lurks, and a lot of care has gone into making the Stillwater a vivid and memorable landscape. Alaan didn't spend much time traveling this time -- trapped as he was in marsh-type locale with the most powerful sorcerers trying to track him down and kill him. Also not good, especially after the injuries he received at the end of The One Kingdom...
The book manages to avoid the sluggish-ness of some second volumes in trilogies, and even without the inevitable show-down included, there are still several other great scenes towards the end, too -- I mentioned in my review of The One Kingdom that I felt Death and his minions would be playing a more corporeal part in this series ... and while I was right, it wasn't quite the way I expected. How Russell explored the history of Death, and his past, was fascinating.
The Isle of Battle has something of a cliffhanger ending which might disappointed some people, but it's a good read and another solid piece of work from Sean Russell. I continue to be impressed with his work. And nice artwork, too ;) 8.5/10.