EYE OF THE LABYRINTH
The second book in the Second Sons trilogy is even more absorbing than the first, as the Age of Shadows ends and life on Ranadon is dramatically altered. The warrior Antonov furthers his quest to conquer the world through diplomacy or war, and imposes his worship of the Goddess on his conquered lands. While rebel Dirk Provin, the true heir to the throne, strives to free his people, Antonov seeks to consolidate his power by converting Dirk to his cause through brutal manipulation.
Fallon's sequel is so effective because she allows her characters to change and grow in the years that have passed since the events of The Lion of Senet. Dirk is a true hero, imperfect but willing to sacrifice him-self for those he holds dear. Plus, he is an effective foil for Antonov; the practical Dirk believes only what his senses tell him to be true, while Antonov's obsessive faith in a capricious Goddess influences his every move.
This is a worthwhile epic with detailed world-building, as political and religious maneuverings lend a sense of immediacy and truth to the characters' motivations. The worship of the Goddess is based in the laws of physics, a novel approach that moves this far away from cookie-cutter fantasy, and the language is clear and simple enough to appeal to even the casual reader.
There are definite threads left dangling at the end of this volume, but presumably next month's conclusion will reveal all. (May, 528 pp., $6.99)
Jen Talley Exum