Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2023 by Reader
Quest Into Darkness is the rare second book in a series that is better than the first. I know this is planned as a trilogy, so I went in expecting this largely to be a bridge between the plot setup and character introductions on one end, and the promise fulfillments and climax of the story completion. It’s a quest after all, right? But if this book is a bridge, it’s one of those bridges that has an entire city built up along its edges, a maze at its center, and towers reaching to the stars. The story continues along multiple paths branching from the climactic events of the first book, but it still introduces characters, cultures, and plotlines that keep the whole of the story fresh and always evolving. Eilenar is still at center, but so is Tinnan, and Kellann, and the Kite Girl, and what was at one point a supporting cast become an ensemble. New characters become instant stars, and even some you may have considered villains from The Silver Stone Challenge are given their own story, depth and motivation. It’s an impressive balancing act to add a number of new points of view and yet always feel like we’re moving forward. The pacing is good, and while it takes a breath here and there, it’s never wasting time. And the story already reaches some very high points that many other novelists would struggle to find in the final book of a series. It’s challenging to talk about without spoilers, but at least one character’s story has that rare moment of “Wait, what…?!” followed by “Wow, okay… I should have guessed that. Maybe.” The kind of surprises that make sense and invite a reread. I think I’ll limit myself to five paragraphs here, but I also have to give credit to the mythology and magic of the series. I’ve walked through many fantasy worlds, from books to movies to games, from child to adult audiences. This book continues a great balance of both intuitive and novel fantasy. It sometimes feels more Western, sometimes more Eastern. It utilizes adult (but never grossly inappropriate) concepts and themes while maintaining a childlike wonder. It’s fully and artfully realized, and my anticipation for book three has only grown.
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