4.5 stars (release date 9-1-2020)
This is the second book in the exciting “Warrior Bards” book series. There is plenty of action, intrigue and suspense in this riveting book. I couldn’t put it down, and even though it’s 512 pages, I read it in 3 days. I cannot WAIT to see what happens next!
The story begins as Liobhan and Dau are about to finish their Swan Island training. Part of the celebration includes exhibition fights between the trainees. Liobhan and Dau’s bout is hand-to-hand combat, best 2 out of 3 wins. Each wins a bout, and during the third fight Dau stumbles backward and strikes his head hard on the ground. He’s immediately knocked out and seriously injured. When he finally awakes, he is blind and suffers from severe headaches.
Dau’s family is notified of his injury while he’s still incapacitated. Liobhan knows that Dau would not want his estranged family notified and would never want to return to the dysfunctional and dangerous home. The leaders of Swan Island do not listen to Liobhan and his family travels to Dau. A member of the contingent is Dau’s older brother, and chief tormentor, Seanan. An informal trial is held and although all of the witness insist that Dau’s injury was an accident, his family demands compensation. Swan Island pays a large sum to Dau’s family for his injury, and Liobhan agrees to serve one year in Dau’s household as a bond servant. Dau is distraught and it takes all of Liobhan’s training to talk him off the ledge.
Once at Dau’s home, they discover that Seanan has not changed and continues to torment both Dau and Liobhan. As the duo get familiar with the household, and the people in it, they discover there are some strange, and possibly deadly, things going on. As the days pass by, Dau and Liobhan have no choice but to find out what is going on at the homestead. This, of course, puts both their lives in danger.
Meanwhile, Brocc is not adjusting to life in the Otherworld as well as he thought he would. His wife, and queen, is acting cold and distant, and her clan are still plagued with attacks by the Crow Folk. There are definitely some mysterious activities going on in the Otherworld. The author gives us just enough background information that it seems she is setting us up for a larger storyline in perhaps the next book.
I loved this book. The story is gripping and will certainly have you reading well past your bedtime. The author’s writing style is so good that reading her books is effortless. You feel like your listening to a master storyteller weaving an epic tale. Even though there was plenty of worldbuilding in the first book, the author expertly sneaks in additional worldbuilding throughout this book that adds even more depth to the story.
I was able to really feel Dau’s frustration and despair as he contemplates a life without sight. I fretted along with Liobhan as she watches her strong, determined friend tortured by his injuries and limitations. Dau’s menacing brother Seanan appears only sporadically in the book, which only serves to increase tension. He was a fun villain to hate.
If you haven’t read any of Marillier’s books, what’s wrong with you?! You need to start right away! This is a great series to start with that doesn’t require you to have read any of her previous series to understand everything that is going on. And while you’re waiting for book 3, you can go back and read all of the authors other books. 🙂
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.