Sunday, December 1, 2013

Book review: "Wings of Wrath" by C. S. Friedman

Last week I finished reading "Wings of Wrath" by C. S. Friedman, a second book in her "The Magister Trilogy" series. First book, "Feast of Souls" I have read during summer vacation and found it all right.

"Wings of Wrath" continues the story set in the first book, but focuses on another set of characters. While all the characters from "Feast of Souls" are here, this time two old characters, Rhys and Sideria. We follow Rhys investigating a disturbance in Wrath, where he comes into knowing Kamala, a main character of the series. The two of them will find out how Souleaters were able to come back and learn the unexpected story behind the Wrath. Sideria, the Witch-Queen, now left to die alone by Magisters she considered friends, is full of anger and bitterns. So when a mysterious stranger offers her a new source of power and life, she is eager to accept it. We also follow are old characters, Colivar, Ramirus and Gwynofar, but also a new characters Salvator, second son of High King Danton.

I must say that "Wings of Wrath" has a very interesting beginning. I was surprised with partial distancing from the plot of previous book and focus on new characters. This leads to new developments, although Friedman nicely closes the book with a parallel to "Feast of Souls". I wasn't entirely satisfied with the ending because it felt much like "deus ex machina" solution, but globally it fits well. I liked the part with Kamala saving Rhys - it reminded be to a classical D&D story. There were few good surprises throughout the book, like with Petrana.

As expected, the middle book in series brings out the expansion of setting and a turnover. We learn more about the current setting, but also about what brought to it. And as is typical for the second books, we learn more about the other side and see them in different light. I wasn't very affected by Rhys' and Kamala's discovery inside Spears, but I presume that as religious fanatics they would be. As I said, the ending was a bit stingy with explanations, so I have a feeling that the last book will be rushed to be able to answer all the questions. Even though I like this game with Colivar and his "memories", will Friedman be able to pull it through?

As for characters, I must say I am very impressed by Friedman's Kamala. She is really not a classical main character. We actually don't spend much time with her. And when we are, she is reserved with her thoughts to reader. She has flaws and she is far from a typical "good" main character. And she definitely doesn't have luck in picking boyfriends... As for other characters, they are a mix. Colivar is a great and mysterious character, Ramirus, Sideria and Salvator solid ones. Gwynofar, on the other side, was neglected and different from the first book. I also found all Northerners not interesting.

As I mentioned in my review of "Feast of Souls", I wasn't very impressed with Friedman's writing. Her editors weren't best also: I found adverb "heady" three times in few pages, which was sloppy.

But in summary, I am satisfied with "Wings of Wrath". It was a solid second book, with advantages in setting and refreshed characters. We will see how the series will end with "Legacy of Kings", but so far so good (but not excellent).

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