rating: * * * * (4 stars)
Fun fantasy adventure, featuring some of the secondary characters from Bane of Souls. Thaddeus, master of the underground, and his sister Lynette, accompanied by Pretty Pierre and Roger the Goat (actually a man; "goat" is a well-earned nickname) head off to the fabled, long-dead city of Altmortis in pursuit of two brothers who have stolen some items of great value and importance to them. Along the way they meet with a variety of adventures and dangers, including a crazed cannibal serial killer and a village of truly creepy beings, the Hykirs, who have their weird eyes on Lynette and Anja, the women in the group. Then, when they find the city and disturb a nest of hungry baby dragons, things really get interesting!
The story seemed a bit slow until they ran into the baby dragons; from that point to the end it really grabbed me and wouldn't let go. But the Hykirs were wonderfully creepy, and I really enjoyed that part. I would have liked the part with the serial killer/cannibal to have more real significance to the plot; that part was too good to just be a passing incident.
For me there was the right amount of description and world-building. I think it really helped that I read Bane of Souls first, so I already knew who the starting characters were and a little about how that world works. Thaddeus and Lynette's secret did seem to kind of come from out of nowhere; I can't remember if any hints were dropped about it earlier. But it's a very cool secret.
I enjoyed seeing more of Pretty Pierre; a really good character from Bane of Souls. I also enjoyed Anja and Fritigern, who are new to this book. Roger the Goat is amusingly revolting; I was glad to see him have an important role in this story.
All in all, a fun read.