Rating: 4 out of 5
In a marked change from the previous book, the pseudo-Egyptian culture gave way to a submarine Greek complex of cities that form the focus for this book. Stenwold is the primary character, in another departure from past stories, with very little time given to others though Teornis features as the second main character.
The subsea environment should have been more to my liking than it ended up being: but, too many kinden, too many new introductions, all based around a fairly far-fetched plot. Yet, when the author manages to finish this plot, it turns out to have been a lot more considered than it originally looked.
Stenwold’s been the shadow master throughout the series, but there has rarely been a volume in which he is the main character. We learn a lot more about him, therefore, and his fears and hopes. In many ways, the author reveals weaknesses in his armour that have previously been hidden, and that makes the spymaster a lot more approachable. Stenwold also manages to show why the Beetles deserve such respect in the way he resorts to talking about every problem.
We are definitely in a far more interesting world by the end of this book, even if very few of the main states feature in depth. Yet, this was a weaker instalment than the previous episode.