Truly a powerful sequel to Transformation. I was pleasantly surprised –yet again – by Berg’s masterful story building and elegant prose. I truly enjoyed the way the events of the previous book, which can be read as a standalone, deftly lead to another complex conflict with rich ramifications.”Astonishing how old fear returns like a well- worn garment, still fitting perfectly well, though you believe yourself grown long past its use”
I didn't think I would have liked this one as much as the stunning first book of the series since it doesn’t have the same advantage of novelty, but the tale and the characters are very original and I was deeply engaged from beginning to end. The POV is always Seyonne’s, who has resumed his former duties with staunch dedication but is unable to conform to what he now perceives to be a sterile tradition. Regarded suspiciously by his very own people for his maverick demeanor, he is suddenly faced with a most intimate tragedy borne of prejudice, and decides to defy all the laws of his country.
This time there are more plotlines and characters, the story definitely gets more tangled and I was thrilled at letting it sweep me away. Along with the constant and skilled worldbuilding, the narrative pattern worked superbly for me, the careful construction of the first part of the book gradually widens the stage and allows for rich developments and several story twists.“As had happened each time I thought I had discovered the true depth of despair, I turned another corner and found the way still pointed downward.”
Seyonne has not lost his incredible resilience for abuse and humiliations. For all his fighting skills against demons and his warrior training, he gets captured and/or beaten pretty often during the ordeal. This adds realism to the story, too, but his actions give the impression that he kind of welcomes captivity as a reaction to psychological pressure, almost as if it were a reprieve from the gnawing doubts which pepper his course and the double-edged consequences of his inquisitive nature. Maybe “welcome” is too strong a word, but surely Seyonne never forgets his past and acts consistently, he doesn’t settle for the easy way out but when choosing or thinking become painful he tends to fall back into slave habits. Yet he also manages to be far from passive, showing ironbound resolve, faith in his vision as Warden of Ezzaria and an uncanny capacity for all-encompassing innovation.
Disturbing thoughts apart, this blend of strengths and weaknesses is an intriguing aspect of his character and his development as a person. Also, this time I was better prepared for the cruelty and violence immanent to the tale, which are different from the previous book’s and never graphic, but still very harrowing.”Creatures with words were creatures I could hate, and that kept my mind alive. Barely.”
There are some interesting women who share the stage, one of whom I absolutely despised but it was nice to read about her, when an author manages to get me interested with unpleasant characters I know I’m truly hooked. The intense ending offers a satisfying conclusion, but it’s also a clear stepstone to the last installment which, of course, I read straight.
Colour me sold on Carol Berg :D