The Norothian Cycle. New Author? : No. Overall Rating : 8½*/10.
Change looms in the Norothian world, perhaps on an unprecedented scale. It is already touching Tilda's band of adventurers. Nesha-Tari sails east to do her Master's bidding. John Deskata rides north to contest the throne of Miilark. Tilda and Phin have "baggage" issues. The Duchess Claudja wants to get back to her homeland of Chengdea, where her father's open rebellion will surely lead to war.
And the dragons have their own agendas.
What's To Like...
The time is about two weeks after the end of Book 1, and the action starts immediately. The accompanying map is more inclusive, which is good since M. Edward McNally brings some new lands into the story.
John Deskata is gone; we won't see him again until Book 3. As a replacement, we get a Codian princess, Allison. Be not beguiled by her youth and diminuitive size; you do not want to get into a fight with her, with or without weapons. We meet some new species - a half-elf and a way-kewl minotaur(ess). Nesha-Tari's quest is told in a separate storyline, and she picks up some interesting traveling companions. The arch-fiend, Balan, is back; and he's in a foul mood.
One of the kewlest things about Death of a Kingdom is the treatment of the heroes themselves. Their spirits may be noble, but not all their actions are. Three people die because of one hero's carelessness, there is an unprovoked military excursion, and well... um..., a girl's gotta eat, right? Personally, I like my characters like this - not all white or all black. "Gray" is fashionable in Epic Fantasy.
Kewlest New Word...
Breeks : a Scottish term for breeches.
"You have never really said if you adhere to any Norothian faith in particular. I am trying to recall, but I believe you have taken each of the Ennead's names in vain, in roughly equal measure." (...)
"Faith tends to be fairly malleable in the Rivens, as if you feel too strongly for one-or-another deity, you are probbably going to have to march against someone else's followers at some point. Or else, they will come for you. There are not many big churches, either. Too inviting a target once a war gets rolling. Most of us pray to anyone we think will listen, depending on circumstance." (location 989)
Claudja watched the old Chengdean sergeant sight along the shaft of Zeb's crossbow, test the pull, then salute him. He said a few polite words in Daulic the Minauan only blinked at, then turned and started to leave, taking Zeb's bow with him.
"Hey, what the... what was that?" Zeb asked, turning to Claudja. "I rather need my bow, your Grace."
Claudja looked at the puzzled man calmly. "Zebulon, that man is a skilled marksman without a weapon. I have seen you miss enemies from five paces. This is simply a more efficient deployment of resources."
"You wound me, Duchess."
"And you wound nothing you aim at. Come with me." (location 5746)
I paid $4.99 for DoaK at Amazon, which is pretty reasonable for a 400-page book. But you really should read the first book in the series, The Sable City (500 pages in length, and reviewed here), which you can pick up for $2.99.
"It seems the things we do here are doomed to be of significance." (location 6360)
The book's main storyline is well-crafted. It builds to a climactic battle, and the ending both wraps things up nicely and points to further adventures. You might get a little tired of Nesha-Tari riding over hill and dale with her bickering companions, but have patience. You will be well rewarded once they arrive at Ayzantu City.
Death of a Kingdom is a worthy sequel to The Sable City. New characters are introduced, existing ones are developed further (especially Nesha-Tari), and the overlying story evolves from a simple quest to the dawning of a New Order. Isn't that what sequels are supposed to do? 8½ Stars.