The Scorched Earth

The Scorched Earth carries forward the plot from the first novel but spirals it out into even more ambitious directions. Carefully weaving a series of storylines following would-be mages, seers and saviors, Drew Karpyshyn plunges readers through a sweeping range of emotions. There are moments of despair and tragedy, acts of love and loyalty, amazing feats of strength and cunning. All of these aspects build into a crescendo that leaves this novel soaring on high notes, and yet this is only the middle act.

This book picks up with Daemron, the main villain of the series, as he deals with chaos in his realm. Elsewhere, Jerrod, Scythe, Norr, Vaaler and Keegan make there way across the Frozen Plains of the Far East with the hope of refuge. Deep in the mountains, Cassandra learns the history of the Old Gods from the ancient guardian. Then there’s Rianna, Queen of the Danaan, left in the ruins of her great city with a thirst for revenge. All of these characters are motivated by immediate goals, their stories juggling back and forth as fate turns against them and grants favor. Yet it is the villains, Daemron’s minions, that bring them together.

Introduced in Children of Fire, Daemron sent a handful of his most trusted and capable minions to seek out the three talismans of the old gods. Raven, a female being with a bird’s head, claws and wings, pursues Cassandra and the crown. Orath, a bat like creature, seeks Keegan and the ring. The lesser minions play a smaller part in the story. Karpyshyn uses Orath to manipulate the Danaan queen and summon a monstrous creature known as the ogre. Raven, on the other hand, stirs up trouble among the tribes of the Far East. Together, they drive the story towards its torrential climax.

I really liked the progression of the characters in this book. Scythe continues to be a likable character, one I can relate to. She gets sucked into this adventure because of her love for Norr. Where he goes, she goes, and the two balance each other out. Scythe is the paranoid one who isn’t hesitant to do the job. She’s strong willed and to the point. Norr, on the other hand, is trusting and self-deprecating. He underplays his skills and fame. He’s compassionate and considerate. Whereas Scythe is the tiny hurricane of destruction, Norr is the sleeping giant you don’t want to wake.

One of my other favorite characters is Vaaler, the Danaan prince who is cursed with the inability to cast magic. Shunned by his own people, and motivated by his friendship with Keegan, he joins the others in their quest for the talismans. Along the way, his character arc plays a new role as they interact with the tribes of the Frozen Plains. He becomes an essential character, one whose unique abilities become invaluable. I really enjoyed his journey through this book.

Cassandra doesn’t get a whole lot of attention in The Scorched Earth, so hopefully her character will come back to the forefront in the final novel. That leaves Keegan…a character who I initially liked but became disconnected to at the end of Children of Fire. His use of the ring transformed him into someone I couldn’t relate to. He became selfish, distant and undisciplined. Some of those traits recur in this story, yet he also has some decent moments. But overall, he’s still not a character I care about or enjoy. Things are happening to him, though, so there’s a possibility he might change enough in the third book for me to care about him again.

If you’re a fan of fantasy and looking to try something new, this series continues to shine. Unlike some authors, Karpyshyn is knocking these out fast so you won’t have long to wait to read the whole trilogy. He writes deep, intriguing characters set in a strange world of unique magic. It’s a place where magic is dangerous but essential. Through this strange land and cast of characters, he weaves a deviously paced adventure that plays on readers’ emotions. By the end, you’ll be seriously worried about what’s going to happen and to who. It’s a frantic crescendo that bursts forth from massive battles for the fates of nations and the personal struggles of the main characters. That last stretch of the book is a beautiful piece of storytelling. Do yourself a favor and make sure you read that last quarter in one setting. It’s a blast.

I give The Scorched Earth a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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  1. […] were filtered through J.R.R. Tolkien’s heroism“. And Roqoo Depot proclaims “Drew Karpyshyn plunges readers through a sweeping range of emotions“. (I also did a cool interview with Roqoo Depot a few weeks ago, in case you missed it!) And […]

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