Monday, 30 December 2013

Review: The Shining Citadel, (The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles 2) by AL Butcher

This was the fantasy Book of the Month for November over at the Indie Book Club on Goodreads.

The story continues pretty much straight on from the first book (The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles). The cast is generally the same, but there are several major additions, most notably the elf Th’alia and a chap called Marden. We also get to meet the trolls for the first time. Unlike the usual reputation of trolls, those in this book are rather civilised (and attractive).

Lord Archos and his lady wife, Dii, accompanied by various others are tasked with finding the Shining Citadel of the title. It was an ancient city of the elves, deliberately hidden away by magic when plague ravaged elven civilisation and the elves were spread far and wide. They’re assisted by the elven scholar Th’alia, but all is not quite as it seems…

Although I’ve read the first one my suspicion is that a person who hadn’t would not find themselves lost at sea with characters or story in The Shining Citadel. The basics of the world and roles of characters within it are recounted, but not at a length that would feel like an info-dump to a new reader or endlessly repetitive to an old one.

The book is an improvement in almost every way over its predecessor. The pace of the book works throughout, and I enjoyed the storyline, which rises to a nice crescendo. I sometimes felt detail was excessive previously, but here it’s pitched just right. There’s also more moral ambiguity, largely due to the new arrivals.

It’s not perfect, however. Sometimes there can be repetition of ideas in thought or speech, so that points become a bit laboured. The dialogue could be a little sharper. It never fails to accurately convey the message the author wants, the issue is that it feels a shade unnatural (perhaps a bit too formal).

Overall, I rather liked it, and I don’t think it’s necessary to have read the first book to enjoy this one.


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