I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
My name is Raine Benares. Until last week I was a seeker—a finder of things lost and people missing. Now I’m psychic roommates with the Saghred, an ancient stone with cataclysmic powers. Just me, the stone, and all the souls it’s ingested over the centuries. Crowded doesn’t even begin to describe it. All I want is my life back—which means getting rid of the stone and the power it possesses. To sort things out, I head for the Isle of Mid, home to the most prestigious sorcery school, as well as the Conclave, the governing body for all magic users. It’s also home to power- grubbing mages who want me dead and goblins who see me as a thief. As if that’s not enough, Mid’s best student spellsingers are disappearing left and right, and I’m expected to find them. Lives are at stake, goblins are threatening to sue, mages are getting greedier, and the stone’s power is getting stronger by the hour. This could get ugly.
If you enjoyed book one of the Raine Benares series, you will also enjoy book two, as it is really more of the same thing. Raine is still psychically tied to the magical stone, the Saghred, and still trying to get disentangled from it. Quite the opposite of most quest tales, really, where the hero is often trying to obtain a certain object and then wield its power, Raine is trying to divest herself of a powerful magic stone.
I found myself wishing for a bit more nuance in the characterization of the villains—they are evil with no redeeming qualities, which makes them predictable and somewhat boring. I also found myself wishing that Raine was a bit more introspective, not just plunging into the next situation without any analysis of what she actually wants to achieve and why.
The romantic triangle gets a bit more tangled. If ever a woman needed a female BFF, it is Raine as she tries to sort out her feelings for both Tam and Mychael. As in most fantasy fiction with a side order of romance, this series omits that highly necessary female friend. Those of you who read my reviews regularly know that this is a major source of annoyance for me! In this instance, I find myself wondering, “Why can’t she have them both?” I see absolutely no reason that she should have to choose.
There is a bit of repetition of explanatory details, which is probably most obvious to me because I picked up book two right after finishing book one. If it had been a while since I read the first installment, this probably wouldn’t have bothered me at all—as it is, it was only a minor annoyance. Once again, although there has been a whole book’s worth of action, very little time has passed and the situation is still not resolved.
At least Raine has initiative and a choice in what her actions will be. Having acquired extra magic from the Saghred, she is busily learning what her new abilities allow her to accomplish. I am still enjoying the humour of the author and the wry tone of Raine’s voice. I guess it speaks volumes that I had not planned to read this book right now, but since it was sitting on my shelf I couldn’t resist plunging right into it after the first volume. Very enjoyable.