★★★The Darkwater Saga #2
Bethany House, 1st November 2016
464 Pages, Print, ebook and Audio
Victory over the dark forces during the feast of Bas-solas should have guaranteed safety for the continent. Instead, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover they've been outsmarted by those seeking to unleash the evil that inhabits the Darkwater. Jorgen, the member of the Vigil assigned to Frayel, has gone missing, and new attacks have struck at the six kingdoms' ability to defend themselves.
Just when the Vigil thought they had quenched the menace from their enemy in Collum, a new threat emerges: assassins hunting the Vigil, men and women who cannot be seen until it's too late. The orders of the church and the rulers of the kingdoms, fearing the loss of the Vigil's members altogether, have decided to take them into protective custody to safeguard their gift. On Pellin's orders, the Vigil scatters, leaving Willet to be taken prisoner by the church in Bunard.
In the midst of this, Willet learns of the murder of an obscure nobleman's daughter by one of the unseen assassins. Now he must escape his imprisonment and brave the wrath of the church to find the killer in order to turn back this latest threat to the northern continent.
I requested this one partly because the Audiobook had just been released, so I hoped to listen to that alongside this, in truth though, I think I listened to the whole thing as an Audiobook. This second instalment in the Trilogy seemed stronger than the first, with better characterization, and not so much of an emphasis on the main protagonist Willet Dura.
It was more interesting to learn something about the lives, personality and motivations of the other members of The Vigil.
(For those unfamiliar with the last story, they are mysterious group, who called themselves the Guardians of the realm, who seem to belong to the Church, but really act on their own authority, possess the frightening power to read men’s minds, delve their memories, and profess to live for Hundreds of years.)
The nature of the evil powers present in the story, and the supernatural abilities of the Vigil and others seem to become more clear and understandable in this story, unlike the last one which was more confusing, although I suppose there is meant to be some blurring of lines to reflect the flaws in human nature. The Vigil do what they think is for the best, but sometimes it backfires or their actions raise serious questions about the morality of their motives. If people were ‘gifted’ by God with superhuman abilities, as they are in this story, would it be right to use their power and ‘gifting’ to punish evil or escape danger, if it meant destroying others, and such a course was forbidden to them?
The characters’ wrestle with these issues and their own demons throughout the story, which adds a more credibility and depth. Also, I appreciated that Willet did not seem quite so smarmy and cocky in this story. It got annoying after a while in the last one. He doubts himself here, and had to rely on the help of others.
One or two other reviewers said they would have preferred more action in this story, but I think many stories rely too much on non-stop action, and it often detracts from other aspects of storytelling, such as world-building, or character and plot development. Sometimes a slower-paced story with depth and well-drawn realistic characters is better than a fast- paced thriller.
I confess, this is not my favourite pseudo-Medieval fantasy series (it feels too modern to be in any sense ‘historical’). I still prefer The Traitor’s Heir by Anna Thayer, but this one is worth a read (or a listen) for lovers of Imaginative Fantasy which explores moral themes.
I requested an e-book version of this title from the Publisher via Netgalley for review, and purchased the Audible book of my own volition. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.