Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 14, 2015
In this sequel to Frostborn, Karn Korlundsson has settled nicely into his life as the son of a Jarl, learning how to trade and bargain. His adventuring days are over, or so he thinks. When Karn is whisked away to have a (another) face-to-face encounter with a dragon, he finds himself on a quest to find his missing half-Frost Giant friend Thianna and another horn of power. However, finding a half-giant isn't as easy as he thinks it should be, especially with dark elves on his tail. Karn carefully traces Thianna's footsteps, not caring so much about the horn, but determined to solve the riddle in order to find his best friend. Perhaps Karn would have a bit more success if betrayal wasn't also on the path of his quest.
I am quite pleased with this sequel to Frostborn. Karn is no longer whinging on about how much he hates being a farmer. Thianna's hangups about being half-Frost Giant have changed to a quest do discover more about her mother's (a human) people. There is still some interesting board games in the story, but has been cut back considerably with more of an emphasis on the game of riddles.
New to the story are the Dark Elves. These trained warriors are ruthless and hard, at least they are supposed to be. The problem elf is Desstra, who we follow as she struggles with the idea of identity and her loyalties within her own people group. Desstra has known no other life than that of the darkness of her kingdom. Confronted with kindness and friendship for the first time, something that lurks within her own heart, Desstra struggles between being herself and being the warrior she thought she wanted to be. This seems to be the real theme of the books too. Identity, belonging, and becoming your own person. Or dragon.
Lou Anders has created a big world, full of history, games, adventure, and war, and he has done it with great panache. The pacing is perfect. At the back of the book, feeling much like Lord of the Rings in this aspect, is a beautiful map, a glossary, History of Katernia, timelines, a song, and game instructions for Charioteers. I think it would actually be fascinating to create these game boards and try to play them.
A terrific fantasy adventure that promises much more to come, I can't wait to get my hands on a third.
An ARC of this book was provided to me by Random House Children’s Books in exchange for an honest review.