Welcome to Book 2 of the Chaos Knight series, where our intrepid hero Vidarian Rulorat gets to fix the problems that came with opening the gate between worlds. Right up front if you haven't read the first book, read it. Its enjoyable and has some interesting world building elements to it, but beyond that Hoffman doesn't spend a whole lot of time or words talking about what came before. Though even having read the first book (SWORD OF FIRE AND SEA) I'm rather confused. I'm fairly certain time passed, though how much is vague and indeterminate.
My main problem with this second outing was that unlike the first book I felt more like I was reading the straight run through of a video game. The plot moves from Point A to Point B with little enough deviation that it felt stiff. The few deviations are minor and not particularly interesting, while Hoffman doesn't do enough to expand the world itself. Hoffman relies too heavily on the reader's prior knowledge of the first book (who Ruby is, the events surrounding the gate being opened, the feud between the various factions) while somehow giving out information about world sparingly.
I said the first book brought me back to the good old days of adventuring fantasy, and this still holds true. Sadly much like those books I was so fond of in my youth, LANCE OF EARTH AND SKY doesn't move the plot forward enough to make the reader care.
In the sequel to Sword of Fire and Sea, Vidarian Rulorat faces the consequences of opening the gate between worlds: elemental magic is awakening across the planet after centuries of dormancy, bringing with it magically-powered wonders including flying ships and ancient automata; empires leap into war over long disputed territory as their technologies shift; the spirit of his oldest friend, Ruby—killed in the immediate aftermath of the gate's opening—is trapped inside one of the gems used to open the gate; and Ariadel, his one great love, isn't speaking to him. Called into service by the desperate young emperor of Alorea, Vidarian must lead sky ships in a war against the neighboring southern empire, train the demoralized imperial Sky Knights to ride beasts that now shapeshift, master his own amplified elemental magic, and win back Ariadel—all without losing his mind. Compounding his task is a political minefield laid by the Alorean Import Company, which may or may not be fomenting war across the planet, and a shapeshifter that bonds to Vidarian during his early attempts to subdue the rogue bird-like seridi—a wolf pup that will prove to be the fabled bridge between sky and earth magics, an electricity elemental that takes the shape of a dragon upon maturity: the lance of earth and sky.