Book 1 in the series left us with Mage Alain and Master Mechanic Mari going separate paths. Both strive to fit in and make strides in their respective guilds. Mari takes on every task required of her, until one day she is told she must travel to a war-torn area, on her own. Mage Alain is in a similar situation, having been assigned to protect a group of people, only to be targeted by other mages who are tossing around lightning. Mari & Alain unite forces once more and strive to come up with a solution to turning aside the storm they both sense is about to hit their world. They turn their eyes towards the long buried and forgotten archives of the long dead city Marandur.
I absolutely loved Book 1 in this series and Book 2 did not disappoint, though I would be hard-pressed to say which one I enjoyed more. Mari and Alain have great chemistry and I love watching them try to figure out their relationship, as well as survive the numerous enemies they have gained. Alain is delving into long suppressed memories of family in order to regain his emotional side. He is also developing social skills, which adds some much appreciated humor even in the bleakest moments. Mari struggles a bit with an age-old prophecy concerning the possible ending to the world as they know it. If I have any complaint about this book, it is that sometimes Mari is a little too emotional. Also, she has a streak of jealousy that is a little ridiculous and isn’t fully resolved by the end of this book. I wasn’t a particular fan of this trait in her and felt it could have been less emphasized.
That little complaint aside, the plot is rich with further developments. Both guilds have secrets, but they also have folks who want those secrets out. Plus there are the Dark Mechanics who we briefly glimpsed at the end of Book 1. So many folks want these two dead! So with great reluctance, the duo finally head off to Marandur only after they feel other possibilities have been exhausted.
Now Marandur was not as expected. It was more complicated and what they found there could be a huge asset….if only they can get out alive. I really don’t want to spoil any of this for you, as all the Marandur scenes happen late in the book. Let me just say it was a bitch to get into and, even then, they were not safe.
This book does a masterful job of weaving steampunky science fiction with philosophical fantasy. It’s an excellent combination and sets the bar high for the small, but growing, subgenre of science fantasy.
Narration: MacLeod Andrews once again did a great job of Mari and Alain. He can totally cut all emotion from his voice when doing a Mage, and yet imbue Mari’s voice with so much emotion when she is frightened or angry. I especially like his voice for Mari as it is a bit throaty and it makes it so easy to picture her as a serious mechanic.