In keeping with the other tales in this wonderful fantasy series, there is a wealth of action and characters which form the intricate tale surrounding one exceptional female, Jewel. As her powers strengthen and morph, so do her surroundings and the challenges which she faces. I love the imagery in this universe and the author’s dexterity with using phrases that say volumes without adding to the already considerable number of pages in the tale. Two among my many favorites are, “Andrei tactfully said nothing further, but he had a way of saying nothing that was actually quite loud.” and “...in a tone so chilly it would freeze whole lakes if he dropped a word in their water.” but there are countless passages just as striking to be savored.
This is another impressive addition to an almost overwhelming series that immerses the reader in another time and place, and almost functions as a ‘spa day”...or should I say, ‘spa week’ to a fantasy lover. The occasional comic relief provided by the quarrelsome winged felines (I ask you, if one had wings, who would try to occupy the same airspace as another just to be difficult?) helps lighten some of the intensity of the read but one still has the feeling of being a powerless yet willing passenger on a juggernaut that is hurtling toward an inescapable fate. It is not recommended that this be read as a stand-alone since there are so many backstories that have bearing on the characters that populate this story but I can’t imagine that you would be sorry to get entranced by starting with the beginning of the series (except for the pesky issue of needing to meet other responsibilities). Another sensational story from an author who is a genius at world-building.
“Battle” by Michelle West (nee Sagara) is book 5 of the impressive epic fantasy series, ‘The House War’ which centers around Jewel Markess ATerafin. She has ascended to the position left empty when her mentor Amarais was assassinated but her position is still precarious. Not only are there ongoing assassination attempts but her household is still adjusting to the major changes in their lives and responsibilities. The Kings and many others are very uncomfortable with the power that Jewel is manifesting but her concern about the coming battle against the god and the threat posed by the Sleepers is exacerbated by her desire to keep those she considers part of her Den safe. Unfortunately, there is no way to continue on her chosen pathway without risk to everyone around her, particularly since some of her allies are just as dangerous to her as her enemies.
Re-Issued Review - Originally Reviewed 7/22/13 in Hardback. Now Available in Paperback.
The weeks since Jewel Markess ATerafin has been acclaimed ruler of her House have not been peaceful; four assassination attempts have been made on her life, and one of the most important members of her House Council has been forced to retire, leaving a seat empty at a time when she requires trusted allies.
The war in the distant South has ended; the armies, victorious, have returned to Averalaan. During the victory parade of the Kings' armies, the fifth assassination attempt occurs--in full view of the Ten, the Kings, and thousands of spectators. To survive, Jewel takes to the sky on the back of a winged cat; she returns to the Terafin Manse, leaving demonic destruction in her wake, the demon itself in pursuit. In the forest behind her manse, she has the power—barely—to stand against the demon; she does not have the power to destroy it.
In the aftermath of the Terafin's funeral, the Kings have demanded an audience with the newest ruler of House Terafin. A single, careless command given to the elemental earth on the day of the funeral has caused unexplained and disturbing changes to the palace itself. But before Jewel can answer the summons, she falls prey to the strange, sleeping plague that has felled citizens across the city of Averalaan—from the poorest of holdings to the wealthiest of mansions across the Isle.
It is there—in the uneasy land of dreams—that Jewel discovers the reason for the sickness, and there that she begins to understand the forces arrayed against both her House and the Empire; if she can survive the traps set by the Warden of Dreams and by her deadly, former allies, she will wake to a changed world—if she wakes at all.