Minor spoilers follow
as it is impossible to talk about the plot of the second book of the series without at least mentioning some characters indicating they survived to live by the beginning of the second one.
Two years have passed since the events of the first book in the world with magic inspired by very popular Pokemon franchise
with social structure coming straight from Ancient Rome. Thanks to a brilliant stroke by the First Lord (the Big Guy in charge of everything in the realm - for those unfamiliar with the series) in political maneuvering the main characters of the first book - a former shepherd boy Tavi and his foster parents - now have to support the First Lord at all cost whether they like it or not.
So Tavi studies in the capital's Academy, his aunt stays at her steadhold (a glorified huge farm), and his uncle is in charge of local military unit. Their world is not exactly a very peaceful place; in fact the only one more dangerous I can think of is David Gemmell's Drenai. Anyway, a new almost alien threat appeared - straight from John Carpenter's movie The Thing. Now the three people I mentioned and their sidekicks are the only defense of the realm against total destruction. Do I need to say none of trio has any superpowers? Tavi cannot even use any magic at all. Minor spoilers end here.
One third of the book was spent on hinting at gloomy and apocalyptic things to come. While the plot moved alone with a decent pace without losing any momentum I still got bored. I cannot even explain the reason for this, I just did.
I was sure this would have 3-star rating until I hit the second third of the tale when plot switched from fast moving to flying (supersonic aircraft style) mode. Once things began moving they really moved with people escaping extremely dangerous situations by inches only to end up in much worse ones. This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Robert Asprin: "When things are at their blackest, I say to myself, 'Cheer up, things could be worse.' And sure enough, they get worse."
At this point my resolve to give 3 stars started to get weaker. And then I hit the last third of the book.
That portion of the novel contained such a nice and absolutely unexpected twist that I forgave the part where I got bored, I forgave the use of typical and worn-out classic fantasy tropes, I forgave killing off a fascinating character just when (s)he was getting some screen time, I forgave Tavi becoming the Wonder Boy for no apparent reason, I forgave countless other things. This was good enough for me to warrant 4 stars.
Before I conclude my review,
The first book could almost be considered standalone ad it finishes practically all the plot points. This one albeit without cliffhanger at the end, still has enough dangling threads to knit a sweater for a medium-sized elephant. Among other things this means that if you made it this far it is too late to stop now - and it applies to me as well.
My special thanks go to my friend Jaime for the ideal Pokemon image idea:)