With the Leran threat laid to rest, Alec and Seregil are now able to turn their attention to the ancient evil which threatens their land. The Plenimarans, at war with Skalans, have decided to defeat their ancient enemy by raising up the Dead God, Seriamaius. The early attempts at this reincarnation--masterminded by the sinister Duke Mardus and his sorcerous minion Vargul Ashnazai--once left Seregil in a sorcerous coma. Now, an ancient prophecy points to his continuing role in the quest to stop Mardus in his dread purpose.Seregil's friend and Mentor, the wizard Nysander, has long been the guardian of a deadly secret. In a secret, silver-lined room hidden well beneath the Oreska, he has served for most of his 300 years as the keeper of a nondescript clay cup. But this cup, combined with a crystal crown and some wooden disks, forms the Helm of Seriamaius, and any mortal donning the reconstructed Helm will become the incarnation of the god on earth.
Nysander holds the cup and Mardus the wooden disks--one of which was responsible for Seregil's coma--but the crown must still be located. Threatened under pain of death by Nysander to keep his quest a secret even from his loyal companion, Alec, Seregil is dispatched to find the last missing piece of the Helm so that he and Nysander can destroy it. But this is only the beginning of one of his deadliest journeys ever, for the prophecy also holds that four will come together in a time of darkness, and gradually all that Seregil values is placed at risk as he, Alec, Nysander and Micum are drawn into a deadly web of terror and intrigue.
So this turned out to be one of those books that was SO GOOD it made it impossible for me to read another book for a few days. I didn’t want to! I just wanted to keep thinking about Stalking Darkness, and the characters, and their world, and EVERYTHING.
Best new character POV goes to Beka, a soldier and secret Chosen One. (That wasn’t a spoiler because it’s pretty obvious from the get-go.) She’s so great! She’s learning how to be a leader in the middle of war, while also being pulled along by a prophecy she knows nothing about. I’d read an entire book with just Beka, tbh. More Beka, please!
Most redeemed character: View Spoiler »Thero, who started off being a suspicious jerk and ended up being a hero. « Hide Spoiler I was not expecting that! I expected a lot of other things in Stalking Darkness, but not for View Spoiler »Thero « Hide Spoiler to actually do something good.
Most adorable couple: Alec and Seregil, duh. Also, yay for progress in the romance! Slow as molasses, those two, but they got there.
Character who most needed to become genre-savvy ASAP, because seriously: Nysander, who made Seregil go out and get Evil Tchotchkes and then put the whole Evil Tchotchkes collection in one room. And then was surprised when the necromancers attacked so they could get into that room and grab the Evil Tchotchkes! HELLO.
Also, Nysander’s suspiciously tacky girlfriend from the first book turned out to be evil in a surprise twist that wasn’t as all surprising and was in fact slightly disappointing. Because of course she is! She’s into sex and magic and that means she’s evil sexy. Eh.
But actually, I do have a huge problem with one of her plotlines and how it was handled in the book. She (Nysander’s girlfriend) used magic to lure Alec into having sex with her, and nobody seemed to think that was bad. They questioned it, and they asked Alec about it, but nobody acknowledged that using magic to induce somebody to sleep with you is morally wrong. Yes, Alec went along with it, but his ability to consent was impaired because of the magic! Do Nightrunner wizards not have rules about luring non-magical people into bed by bespelling them? If not, they need to.
So I was not happy with certain aspects of the story, despite my great love for the characters.
The STORY. It was mostly good. I admit I’m a little tired of the Great Evil Must Be Defeated By a Chosen Band of Heroes thing, especially when it follows predictable plot lines.1 But I could see practically all the plot points two miles before they showed up, which was disappointing. I suppose I had higher hopes, plot-wise.
But, and this is most important: I still enjoyed it! See: the beginning of this post. After I finished it I literally couldn’t read another book for two days. I was still so sucked into the Nightrunner world that I didn’t WANT to read another book. So even though I was disappointed, I was also very happy.
It’s a weird kind of feeling that mostly made me want to stay in bed and stare at the ceiling for a few hours, and ALSO jump around in joy and happiness. I had to go to work, so I did neither of those things, but I FELT them in my bookish soul.
And isn’t that everything you could want from a book? That terrible mix of angst and joy? That’s all I want from a book, anyway. And I can’t wait to feel it again when I read the rest of the series.
Read: January 27-February 3, 2015
- Was the first book this predictable? I don’t think it was, though I may be misremembering. ↩