Of all things, men most love to watch ohers face Death. It reminds them they yet live.
Once again, readers return to the world of the Shattered Sea, shadowed under the pervasive threat of the High King and Grandmother Wexen. Gettland’s list of allies is short, so Father Yarvi amasses a crew to sail to the far Empire of the South in hopes of brokering a deal with their empress. Thorn and Brand were soldiers in training, but when they are thrown out they take a chance and join Yarvi’s crew, where they see more of the world they could’ve imagined.
This book was told through that dual POVs of Thorn and Brand, which in my opinion, is a step up from Yarvi’s perspective in the previous book. Their voices were distinct and strong, and I could clearly feel their personalities. By seeing him through other’s perception, I came to appreciate Yarvi more than I did before.
Thorn was my favorite character. She shares the role of narrator with Brand, but I’d say she is the dominant character of the two, growing and developing as the story progressed. Thorn is unusual, a girl playing soldier in a man’s world, but what she lacks in strength she makes up for with sheer determination. At the start of the book, I’d say she’s a little crazy. But as she starts her journey, she learns a lot from a mentor and gets her ego in check, along with becoming a master at fighting. Now she’s deadly, faster, smarter, and more skillful than any opponent. Even so, we see her vulnerabilities and insecurities, which provides a reminder that she, like us, is only human. Seeing both sides of her, as well as reading of her impressive character arc, are one of the highlights of this book.
I didn’t care for the romance between Thorn and Brand. I liked them better as friends, and I felt like it was just thrown in to add some extra angst in the story, which it certainly did. I didn’t feel much chemistry between them, but I’m glad they respected and cared for each other. The romance was more of a side plot, so it’s pretty easy to ignore it if you weren’t a fan.
As always with returning to a series, it was wonderful to see old faces mixed in with the new. Rulf is present throughout most if the story as the ship’s captain, and Sumeal makes a surprising appearance in the Southern Empire. Some of my favorite characters were Skifr, Thorn’s ruthless trainer, and Vialine, the young but cunning empress of the south. They all added their own special flavor to the story.
This is such a good series. I had a few qualms with the first book, nothing too major, but I definitely liked this one a lot more. If you enjoy solid world building, intricate plots, and kickass characters, then why haven’t you read this yet? Go read it, it’s great!