Rating: 4 out of 5
The second instalment in Mr Tchaikvosky’s Shadows of the Apt was a clear improvement over the first. Not only have the characters developed from the previous, but also the action encompasses a larger territory and a more varied set of characters. This also means that more insectoid races are brought into the fold.
The characters are all a bit more bearable than in the first book: Stenwold is perhaps the greatest problem as he has become chronically unsuitable for the position at Collegium that he has, in effect, worked for all this time. The former students are already displaced enough around the entire Lowlands to feature separately, doing their own thing more often than not. Uctebri, the addition in Capitas (another really poor name), makes for a very interesting new character, another mystic as opposed to the more technologically oriented group of people.
The action centers around war, and the author’s style is better in his descriptions of the siege and battles that take place here. I think this could relate to the simpler setup of the actions: one side versus another, doing all they can to defeat the opponent. The Vekken and the Imperials are also given a voice, so the reader sees both sides at the same time. This adds a fair bit to the action, though I’m still wondering if it might be preferably to have surprised sprung upon the reader.
Totho is the most interesting character in this instalment while Cheerwell is rapidly becoming the most annoying of the bunch. Nevertheless, we’ll see where this is going. Totho’s journey is a welcome break from the others in any case, while Drephos adds a welcome other side to the Imperials.
I liked this a lot more than the first of the series.