This is the second book in the series The Annals of Drakis by Tracy Hickman. It picks up where the first book ended making an almost seamless story. While it is possible to pick this book up and enjoy it, it really would be better after reading the first book. In the first book the tale that Drakis is to be completing is laid out and his visits to many of his followers villages are described. Still, this book is action packed enough that it would keep a new readers attention.
There are three main plot stories going on at once. Each is important and will impact the others. Though the chapters following Drakis and his group adventures are more numerous than the other two, each is equally important. Read carefully for not everyone is who they seem to be!
The characters are fantastic. Each has a depth and a unique personality. Drakis is still positive that he is not the Drakis of the tale. Jugar likes to grump and Mala is quiet but be careful of this quiet one as she's betrayed Drakis before and will have the opportunity to do so again! Soen is an elf who works for the Rhonas Empire only to find the hunter has become the hunted. He'll still search for Drakis but where he chooses to hide will have him making choices he never thought he would have to make and may just sever his ties to the Empire.
The world that has been developed is complex. On the surface, it's easy to identify several different types of beings. There are the elves at the top, or at least they think they are at the top. Then there are dwarves, humans, goblins and much more. There are also some very intelligent dragons. The land has variety. There are mountains and seas populated by those that work that type of land. The relations between the different types of people are described and learning that they are willing to set aside difference to follow Drakis can be amazing.
Once again, I was quickly involved with this story, wondering where it was going. Many times I just couldn't put the book down as I was sure disaster was imminent. There were more cliff hangers than I could count and each left me on the edge of my seat. Complex plots were happening within the story plots as different groups tried to further their agenda. Even as Drakis and his group needed to rely on each other, they worried about certain members and their abilities and loyalties. And there is a spy or several getting into trouble or causing it!
Tracy Hickman has a fantastic series in this one which I have to highly recommend to any fantasy reader. His world and characters come alive and fairly leap off the page. The complexities keep your mind scrambling to figure out what next, only to learn that you weren't even close. I can't wait to see what next and where Drakis is going. The Rhonas Empire will never be the same.
Drakis and a small group of his followers were attacked by dragons! In their attempt to flee, the jump through a fold into a land none have ever been to and find ruins of a great civilization. Jugar, the dwarf, is the only one who can read the ancient writings and urges the group to quickly find shelter. Soon, they learn that there is no place that they can truly be safe in this new strange land and that they are the only hope to get the magic flowing across the land.
Back where they came from, a large group of followers is forming. They consist of those who have met Drakis and those who have heard the tale. All are sure that this former slave is the Drakis spoke of in legends. Now, thousands have gathered to find him. Entire families are on the move and this is making the Rhonas Empire nervous.
The Rhonas Empire consists of elves and their slaves. To escape slavery somehow Drakis disrupted the flow of magic. These elves have based their entire world on this magic and know that they must get everyone behind the cause of destroying Drakis and his followers, even the women and children. If an elf plays it right, they may gain great power!
Re-Issued Review: Originally Reviewed on 8/15/2011. As of 7/3/2012 in Paperback as well as Hardback.
The fates of Drakis, former slave warrior of the elven empire of Rhonas, and Soen, former Inquisitor of the Iblisi, are inexorably tied to the magic of Aether-lifeblood of the elven empire and the cause of humanity's fall. As each searches for the truth beyond legends, he must face his own destiny: Drakis amid the ruins of humanity's Lost Citadels; Soen in a desperate race to seize control of the farthest Aether Well of the empire...