STANDS A SHADOW
Book two in the Heart of the World series explores the theme of personal loyalties through the intimate, often heartbreaking stories of the various characters on both sides of a war. These character motivations shape the action, often in refreshingly unexpected ways. Ash continues to be nearly indestructible, but Buchanan also permits him to grow thanks to the relationships he develops during the story. Several new, interesting characters are introduced, including Curl, a prostitute whose inner strength rivals Ash’s. With a narrative that is riveting from beginning to end, from the big battles to the smallest interactions, this is the rare book that a reader wishes would never end.
Following the murder of his apprentice Nico, legendary Roshun Ash is determined to seek revenge on the Holy Matriarch of Mann, even as his health continues to fail. The Matriarch, vowing to avenge the Roshuns’ murder of her son, moves forth with her plan to conquer the remaining free territories, unaware that treasonous followers are plotting to bring her reign to an end. As the Matriarch’s armies advance, the military leaders of embattled city Bar-Khos prepare a bold strategy designed to bring down the Order of Mann and preserve their city’s freedom. (TOR, Nov., 432 pp., $24.99)