Book: “Cry of Metal and Bone” by L. Penelope
Publishing Info: St. Martin’s Griffin, August 2020
Where Did I Get this Book: NetGalley!
Book Description: Six weeks after the fall of the Mantle, centuries-old enemies Elsira and Lagrimar struggle to unite. The will of the goddess is that the two nations become one, but while the war may be over, peace is still elusive. As desperate Lagrimari flee their barren land for a chance at a better life in Elsira, a dangerous faction opposed to the unification rises.
When a shadowy group with ties to the Elsiran government takes responsibility for the attack and promises more, an unlikely crew is assembled to investigate. Among them are Lizvette Nirall, a disgraced socialite seeking redemption for past mistakes, and Tai Summerhawk, a foreign smuggler determined to keep a promise he made to a dead man. Powerful Earthsinger Darvyn ol-Tahlyro is sent with a secret assignment, one that Queen Jasminda can’t know about. And in a prison far away, Kyara ul-Lagrimar searches for a way to escape her captors and save a family long thought dead.
It’s a race against time in this world of deadly magic, secret agendas and court intrigue to discover those responsible for the bombing before the next attack. And in another land a new enemy awakens—one that will strike terror into the hearts of gods and men.
Review: While it may have taken me quite a while to get to “Whispers of Shadow and Flame” after reading “Song of Blood and Stone” over a year earlier, I was much more prompt in my continuance of the series this time. It took reading the second story to really remind me how fantastic this series really is! The fact that each book centers around a new set of characters while continuing the overall plot of two countries needing to come together in a new world just adds to the appeal. And not for nothing, but I also really like the cover on this one. Let’s dive in!
After so long kept separate by the magical barrier known as the Mantle, it’s no wonder that the countries of Elsira and Lagrimar have struggled to come together. Thing only get worse when there’s an attack on an Elsiran holy site. The King and Queen, desperate to hold their country together and with a shared vision of the prosperous land that could be these two countries united, bring together a small group of individuals to seek out the culprits. Darvyn, still working to find Kyara, his love who has been captured, joins a smuggler and an ex-socialite. For her part, Kyara works to begin to understand and control her powerful magical abilities.
This series seems to just get better and better! Like I mentioned already, one of the things I’ve liked so far has been that each book has introduced a new set of characters/romantic pairing. But as the series continues, this also becomes a more challenging task to undertake as the previous, now four, other characters still exist in the story, some with active storylines playing out. Darvyn and Kyara, for example, from the previous book, ended their story on somewhat of a cliffhanger. They were separated, and Kyara was still learning how to manage her magic. So I was thrilled to see them given the time and page count needed to continue their stories in a satisfying way.
At the same time, these characters can’t outshine the new characters introduced. I really like both of the new character we got here. They each had distinct voices and backgrounds that set them apart from the characters we’ve seen before. I also really liked the romance that developed between them (I’ve really liked all the romances in these books, another feat!). I was perhaps a bit, a bit, less interested than in others just because I was still very distracted by Darvyn and Kyara’s drama that was still unfolding. But that is barely a complaint at all.
I also really liked the continue exploration into the magic of this world and the various powerful players working behind the scenes. The history of the land also continues to unfold in new and surprising ways, keeping you constantly guessing at who was in the wrong or the right. I really like this type of nebulous story-telling that reflects history so well: it’s often told by the winners and so much is lost to time. My only real criticism here is that the villains in all of the books, including this one, have felt rather one dimensional with unclear motivations.
Fans of the series should definitely check this one out. Each book can technically be read as a stand-alone, but I think this one, even more than the second, would suffer as a first entry for new readers. There’s too much of Darvyns and Kyara’s story that would be lost. I’m excited to see where the story will go from here.
Rating 8: Another great entry with a new set of compelling characters and a sweet romance.
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