I was suffering for a huge reading slump while in the middle of this book. It was a big bummer.
I'm having trouble reviewing this one. We got to see most of our favorite characters again. Corin repeatedly tells his men that this second war will be harder than the first because the Calorins know their fighting techniques, but I had some trouble buying that since the last time they were fighting from the trees, collecting men to help fight by saving them from slavery. The Calorins may have had a better idea of what they were up against in this book, but the Aredorians were also more prepared. That said, the book had improved in at least one way over the old one; no more video game fights without loss of the good guys. Three major characters who we care a lot about were killed in this book. I didn't cry, but I did feel emotional. In the first book, I complained because I felt like everyone surviving was unlikely, and because the book could have made me emotional with character losses. In this book I'm complaining because I didn't want characters to die. Don't get me wrong, I think that the deaths of these favorite characters made the book a lot more realistic, and it made the stakes seem real. It's like in Harry Potter, I don't like that so many of my favorite characters died, but it does make the victory sweeter.
I gave this book four stars. So if character deaths made me emotional, one of the flaws of the first book was fixed, and the victory felt sweet, why did I knock off a star from what I gave the first book? I guess there could be a couple reasons. I really liked the setting in Calorin, and Aiden left there a lot more quickly than Corin. I also liked Corin's POV better than Aiden's. We got some of each in this book, but I think that Aiden is a little bit more likeable when we aren't in his head. But both of those things are small. I stilled liked Aiden, even if not as much, and the English/Scottish style Aredor and Braeton are still exciting, even though both books put me in the mood for fiction set in the desert. The real reason this book lost a star is the ending. The epilogue was hard. I always find epilogues that say 'and then the main characters died' hard to read. They make me feel melancholy. But this was worse than most because most epilogues like that end with the characters dying peacefully from old age, but not this one. Aiden spent the rest of his life mourning Rona, and died in an ambush on a pass. Corin and Darrin were killed in a battle with raiders and Argusians, and as he died, Corin saw his old friends who had already died AND AHMED IS COUNTED AMONG THEM, even though we barely even saw Ahmed this book, we didn't know he died, we don't know how he died. Mera had died the year before Aiden (hopefully peacefully) and Liam also eventually dies and is buried close to Martin where they become legends. Tam played a lament after Aiden's death, and then never played again. Darrin and Corin's children were strong leaders and even though their fathers died in a raid, they were able to keep Aredor free. I don't know. This ending is just not satisfying. It's frustrating. It almost feels like a tragedy instead of a triumph.
So overall I really liked this book, but I wasn't a big fan of the epilogue.
I received an ebook from the author with the request of a review. (I also have a physical copy.)