Review: Blood of the Mantis, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rating: 3 out of 5

The third volume was weaker than the second one. While the sub-plot involving the magic box started off interesting, it quickly lost its impetus and stalled. The knife-and-dagger action in Jerez was nevertheless the best part of this book, with Stenwold’s story weaker than ever before and Solarno leaving me unimpressed.

The problems, as encountered, are that while the Jerez adventure creates a wonderful sub-plot to compete with the primary war story, the characters don’t hold up their end of it. Achaeos becomes less pleasant to read as they get closer to the box, while the enmity that Tynisa and Tisamon bear Thalric borders on the ridiculous. These disputes ruin much of the coherence in this storyline.

Meanwhile, Stenwold is making the most pointless overtures for peace in Sarn that he possibly could. I’m not certain how he’s become detached from the person that we saw in the first volume of the series, but in this book he barely even manages to utter anything against the Wasps. Instead, he’s intent on preserving a fictitious power-balance that doesn’t exist—and his thoughts even have him admit as much.

Solarno, seemingly based on Medieval Italy, adds a bit of fun: especially when it turns out that poor Cheerwell can’t understand party politics that are very similar to that of the Collegium. Che is, at the best of times even, driven by incompetence and failure, and though her internal dialogue is dull, the actions she sees is actually not—also, the few moments of courage and determination stand out proud.

A weaker follow-up to the second book, but the plot keeps on twisting.

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