Good morning all! It’s Tuesday morning here in lovely wet Warrandyte. I’m sitting here listening to my new Two Steps from Hell CD called Invincible and all is well with my world so it’s time to do some serious stuff!
Some time ago I wrote a review of M. Edward McNally’s first book of the Norothian series entitled ‘The Sable City’. In that review I made a point of saying how much I liked his world building, amongst other things. Since then I have also nominated McNally as one of the five indie authors who have inspired me with the quality of their work.
When I began reading ‘Death of a Kingdom’, the second book of the Noroth series, I fully expected to enjoy it but I did wonder if McNally would be able to live up to the standards he had set in the first book. I’m very pleased to be able to say that he did. And then some!
Second books are a little like the second-born children in a family – by the time they come along the newness has worn off and their parents are expecting those smiles of wind and gurgles of delight so these second-comers are faced with a much harder life path to follow. Not only do they have to live up to the expectations raised by their older siblings they also have to find some way of distinguishing themselves as individuals in their own right.
In ‘Death of a Kingdom’, McNally has pulled off quite a feat. Not only is the second book as good as the first, it is actually better.
As I began reading ‘Death of a Kingdom’ I started to feel a growing sense of excitement. This book was different. The more I read the more I realised that this time I was going to be taken much, much deeper, not just into the world of Noroth and the lives of the characters but into the lives of nations as well.
The storyline is much more complex, going off in two separate directions. One follows Tilda and most of the original adventurers as they struggle with the aftermath of their trip to the Sable City while at the same time trying to help Claudja in her ongoing battle to save her people. The second follows the life of Nesha-tari, the half human, half Lamia servant of the great blue dragon Akroya. Both streams become deeply embroiled in the politics of Noroth. Things are no longer simple. The lives of nations are now at stake. And more. When the devil Balan appears outside of Vod’Adia and begins stirring the pot you just know that the story is headed towards truly epic levels.
Everything in ‘Death of a Kingdom’ is bigger, deeper, richer, stronger. It is meatier. If I were to compare the two books I would say that the first book, while delicious is just an entrée. Book 2 is a main course. This is where the story truly takes off. McNally introduces us to some new and very interesting characters who reveal layers of politics and intrigue never before seen.
Politics and intrigue almost always lead to battles between armies, huge, confusing, bloody battles and ‘Death of a Kingdom’ is no exception. Some of the battles in the book are fought for the best of reasons, others are fought for reasons the combatants do not understand. But in the heat of battle there is no time for questions of why. Those questions come later, for those who survive.
Everything I have said about the storyline of ‘Death of a Kingdom’ applies to the writing as well. It is richer, stronger and even more vibrant than before, painting scenes large and small with a confidence that was only hinted at in book 1.
This is true epic fantasy and I can hardly wait to jump into book 3, ‘The Wind from Miilark’. Whatever McNally has in store for me I now know that it is going to be big. Yet at the same time I have every expectation that the story will still retain the delicate balance between epic and human that has made ‘Death of a Kingdom’ so very, very pleasurable.
Roll on book 3!