Show me my destiny, and open my eyes so that I may see it clearly.
3.75/5 paper planes
What’s This Book About?
Genre: YA high fantasy
Publication: 19 June 2020
Magic is forbidden in Faneria. After a shocking attack on the king’s city by rogue mages was thwarted, Damian Sires, instrumental in their defeat, is now shunned for being a witch.
Yet an even greater threat looms. Niabi, fox-headed servant of the Gods of Light, is amassing an army, and based on Niabi’s disregard for collateral damage, Damian knows that this spells disaster.
Guarded by a dragon knight and accompanied by a stoic former mercenary, Damian sets out to confront Niabi. However, even more dangerous secrets and plots are about to emerge…
What I Thought:
The threads of destiny surrounding Damian’s birth and magical abilities continue to thicken in this sequel to ‘Enduring Chaos’.
Following the release of the Goddess of Chaos, first from her physical prison within Damian’s body and then the spell binding her to rogue mages seeking to attack the King of Faneria, it is widely believed that this infamous goddess is now dead. Her adversary Niabi, on the other hand, loyal (read: crazy) servant to the younger Gods of Time yet equally destructive, continues to gather forces in the western kingdom in preparation to march on all heathen gods and their followers. Meanwhile, the free peoples east of the mountains are readying to defend themselves and their ways of life. So, you know, not a very friendly atmosphere brewing in the continent of Elderra, and Damian is caught right in the middle.
^ Niabi, probably.
The plot of this book was entertaining and definitely engrossing, but did feel more like a ‘bridging’ story, ramping up the tension for what I expect to be a massive showdown in Book 3. I’m certainly anticipating both pantheons – the Gods of Light and the Gods of Time, maybe even the gods of the free peoples too – to physically appear. I finished the book feeling like nothing particularly earth-shattering had happened, aside from the end. While objectively I know important revelations and developments happened, most of them they didn’t feel as emotionally significant to me. It reminded me a little of how I felt regarding ‘The Scorch Trials’, book 2 in ‘The Maze Runner’ trilogy by James Dashner – still action-packed yet with less plot than the other two books.
As I mentioned in my review of Book 1, Fitzsimmons is talented at painting scenes and immersive world-building, and here she expands Elderra by bringing in the free peoples over the eastern mountains. I think they’re coded to be from a myriad of countries, such as southern Asia (definitely Himalayan regions), perhaps the Middle East and North Africa. I do wish that the map included the free lands, or at least labelled them beyond just ‘Zahn’, which is how the western populations (incorrectly) think of them. I absolutely adored the theme of intercultural communication and cooperation, most embodied by a new POV character named Ashik, and the recognition of how necessary continuous self-development and education is. Never has this felt more socially relevant. Ashik is a multi-lingual trader of the free peoples who is familiar with a variety of cultures, and would make an excellent ambassador. He’s also just a gem of a human being.
I want to be helpful, to be respected. I want to be remembered.Another new side character, Merle, is also coded as having Asperger’s which isn’t something I’ve seen often in fantasy, so that was a nice surprise.
Speaking of characters, it was a lot easier to keep track of who was who than in Book 1, which was probably to do with having already met most of the characters previously. All the characters felt realistic and Damian’s ragtag gang grew quite organically, and I liked the dynamics between them. Damian herself has grown so much from where she began the trilogy, more confident, powerful yet still humble, however I’m still not too fussed about the mercenary Liam/Domino’s brooding silence. Historically I rarely warm to this character type but it’s also because I still feel like I hardly know this guy. He mostly just hovers around Damian…silently, and we don’t get any POV chapters with him. (Highlight for spoilers) When Liam fell in the final battle, I didn’t even feel as sad as I was when that random mage we met for like two chapters was killed. (End of spoiler) Liam actually reminds me of ‘Teen Wolf’s Derek Hale in the early episodes when he just LURKS.
Now, Sir Garrick Magni, who also starred in Book 1, is a totally different story. Garrick remains my favourite character in this series (closely followed by Ashik) and we get a lot more backstory on why he is the way he is. Garrick’s bond with his warhorse Brenardier is also just ADORABLE.
Garrick’s plotline is also arguably the most personally altering, and I’m very invested in seeing how he develops in Book 3.
There is a smidge of romance, which I didn’t feel added anything to this book, unlike Book 1. I might have found certain goodbye scenes more impactful if the romance was left out, as I wouldn’t have been distracted by how uninvested I was in their relationship.
The epilogue certainly surprised me, even if it didn’t make me gasp out loud the way the cliffhanger at the end of Book 1 did. I look forward to seeing how ‘Elderra’s Champion’ will conclude this trilogy.
Thank you to Brain Lag Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.