After a harrowing battle Lady Kyferin and her stalwart followers have earned themselves a brief respite from Lord Laur's fury. They know, however, that the next assault will be impossible to resist. Their sole hope of survival lies in forging an alliance with the only force capable of resisting the empire's might: the Agerastian heretics themselves.
But time is running out...
Yet over these political machinations looms the Black Shriving, the ancient curse that has struck down all who seek to defend Mythgraefen Hold. Asho and Kethe must embrace their newfound powers and undergo a dark journey into the heart of hellscape of the upper peaks in search of answers and a hope of salvation.
Their lives hang by the slimmest of threads...
If Magister Audsley can but divine the lost secrets of the Sin Casters, if Asho and Kethe can wrest the truth behind the existence of the second Black Gate, and if Lady Kyferin and Ser Tiron can forge a tenuous alliance with their most hated of enemies, they may just have a chance of surviving the oncoming darkness...
Thanks for visiting my page! I'm Phil Tucker, a Brazilian/Brit who currently resides in Asheville, NC, where I resist the siren call of the forests and mountains to sit inside and hammer away on my laptop.
I mentioned that I had a good feeling about this series in my review on The Path of Flames; with a heart full of sadness I have to say I’m starting to have doubts about that notion.
The Black Shriving, the second book out of five in The Chronicles of the Black Gate series is a good installment for the series but it suffers from a lot of things. First of all, the main plot itself moved at a snail pace, making this book seems like it was only a preparation for the next book. Other than Audsley’s storyline, every character’s POV has become utterly predictable, especially for Tharok as everything he did basically follow the same storytelling direction with the previous book. I also don’t like when my epic fantasy read is full of romances, a bit is okay but here it was just too much for my taste. The romances happened in every POV except Audsley and Tharok’s. Some of the passages in my opinion also needed some editing as there were a lot of scenes that were drawn out for too long without providing a lot of importance to the quality of the book.
It’s not of course all negative, Tucker’s action scenes are great and his prose is engaging. In my opinion, Audsley’s storyline alone was the true saving grace of this book as his story dealt with a lot of world-building factors that makes the lore in the Ascendant Empire became richer. His story also wasn’t hindered by all the romances looming around all the other POV’s, especially Tiron’s and Iskra’s where I can’t help but wish they would just stop thinking about their love interest and actually proceed with the storyline.
Overall, The Black Shriving is a good book but it fell short in comparison to the promises that the first book provided. The book was equally full of up and down for me; some parts were great and some parts were not. I will maybe continue to the third book of the series but not immediately. Don’t let my review discourage you from starting this series though, I’ve heard that the series only truly shine once it reached the third book and I know I fall on the unpopular side with my opinion on this book. This means there's a huge chance that the third book will redeem the series and also that you'll have a better time with this book than me.
You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
The events start to pick up speed, a lot of mysteries are revealed - yet a lot more remained to be discovered -, and a fierce battle takes place.
More details are added to the worldbuilding, the Sin Casters’ stonecloud is simply amazing and the hordes of demons are nightmarish, to say the least. Tharok continues his quest in becoming the mightiest kragh in history, Asho and Kethe’s bond becomes more powerful, Iskra’s diplomatic skills are fully displayed and Audsley’s transformation is jaw-dropping.
It has its cheesy moments, but that doesn’t spoil the enjoyment. Overall, great fun! On to the next.
"Not fair," he said, lowering his arms. "I was about to engage in witty repartee. It's unsporting to hit a man when he's about to quip."
In this second installment we get much more world expansion as we get to visit new vivid places, there is much more political intrigue, religious conflict and heart-stopping moments. We also get a better idea about how the magic works.. let me tell you it's different and quite creepy. I think this book is at the same time funnier and darker than the first one (Reviewed here), I was pretty grossed out sometimes and some other times a bit heartbroken, but damn if it wasn't a hell of a satisfying read!
Just let's get it out of the way that this is me everytime Lady Iskra simply breathed nearby..
Not to mention the incredible interactions and character development all around... Audsley was a wonderful surprise, that dude is not only freakishly smart and hilarious but apprently a sassmaster too! "Audsley, you think those pools below are safe to bottle?" "Hmm?? The ones without the corpses in them, possibly." This gif of Kenan Thomposn is probably an accurate depiction of Audsley in every possible way!
I still have mixed feelings about Tharok's parts, but they were much more enjoyable than the first book. It took a weird turn near the end but I'm still excited to see how's he going to clean up his mess, that guy is in way over his head!
Yep, this was an excellent sequel and I'm going to start immediately the third book, because boy that ended on a cliffhanger!
Despite a strong and promising start, I am starting to lose interest in the story and I don't care very much about most of the characters. While The Black Shriving have some really good moments, there are also some parts which didn't work well for me.
As I left this for way too long, I am afraid a full review will not be forthcoming. I have decided to DNF the series because I don't really care about the characters and cheesy demonic speeches.
I didn't think that this book could outdo it's predecessor. Oh but by the Black Freaking Gate it did. I just can't with the sheer Epic Awesomeness that is this series. The world, the characters, the magic oh dammit it's bloody perfection.
I'm racing onto book three without any delay as I must have more, more, more "miniacal laughter* Wait why am I wasting time rabbling when I should be reading. See you in a book beat.
This book knocked my friggin' socks off! It was stupendous! I feel that I am a reasonably generous reviewer and often hand out 4 stars to books I liked. But the coveted 5 star review I am a bit stingy with. This book earned all five stars without breaking a sweat.
The best thing about this book is that Mr. Tucker writes his characters doing the things that you want them to do. Often time authors create great characters and make big promises and then take hard left turns. In THE BLACK SHRIVING all the checks written by book one are cashed with interest! There was not one uninteresting or boring page in the whole book!
Another thing I really appreciate is the pacing of the world building. This series takes its time teaching you about the world instead of info dumping or shoving it down your throat early on to get it out of the way (I'm speaking to you, Brent Weeks). In this fashion there are always new surprises to discover and new twists and turns. It adds greatly to the excitement.
Despite the editorial mistakes common in indie books, THE BLACK SHRIVING is an amazing and truly worth while book. I DEMAND you pick this series up!!!
In this new volume all the things have goten better! Almost every chapter ends with a cliffhanger and the stories of all the characters are, also, much more consistent and interesting than in the first one.
We also have a lot of new explanations and the story evolves in some darker places of land and space, but also, of the heart! We have a lot of smart dialogues, impressive lines, and an amazing depth to some of the characters quotes.
I could compare it to some of Abercrombie work, a bloody and unfair fantasy world, very dark, with very convincing characters, but with only a small amount of his humor.
I'm very curios how the story will evolve in the next book and who will win/loose the upcoming battles. Like in the Martin case there are some conflicts of power and goals that, I'm very sure, will be put to test in the future.
I don't know where this writer have been hidding, but in truth, for the time, I can't let my eyes slip for a second from his books.
Thoughts:The Black Shriving was a very good continuation of the Chronicles of the Black Gate series. The first half of the book was a bit slow for me, but the second half more than made up for it. Mr. Tucker maintains his skillful worldbuilding as new cities, cultures, and characters are introduced. The tension and intensity seems to have increased in this volume, and I expect that to continue throughout the series.
The story still follows the same 6 POV's, and they have all grown in their own way. Each is unique and has their own ambitions or reasons for their actions. Mr. Tucker excels at showing characters emotions and describing what drives them. There is a lot of passion in his writing and it is easily shown in his character development and detail.
The magic system isn't very complex and appears pretty straight forward. There are still some things that have not been completely explained, and I suspect a few surprises along the way. The source of the magic seems to come from several different places, and affect people differently depending on how it is wielded. This series has yet to divulge all it's secrets, so I look forward to finding out these missing pieces.
This series is shaping up to be very very good. I have been more than pleased with both books I have read so far, and I look forward to continuing my journey in the Ascendant Empire. I hope it turns out to be as epic and amazing as I believe it will be.
It’s always difficult for me to do reviews for books that aren’t the first in the series. If you’re thinking about reading this one you’ve already read the first so you’re familiar with the characters and world building and writing style. If I reveal too much about the plot it gets spoilery.
I love that Audsley gets so much page time in this one, I love his character I definitely think he’s my favorite of the bunch. It might be his firecat that really has me won over.
We find out what’s up with Asho’s sister – really loved that part.
Thannicks storyline is finally crossing over with the rest of the POV’s and I really loved that. Thannicks arc in this one is trying to be an effective leader, and come up with a plan to take down the humans. He’s struggling with whether or not to use his circlet, and how to keep the Red River clan in order.
Ishka and Tiron develop some very interesting dynamics and I found reading about their feelings and interactions to be really fascinating.
There was some pretty interesting world building going on, lots and lots of demons and demon fighting that kept the pace moving really quickly. I didn’t feel like this book suffered from ‘second book’ syndrome where it’s a lot of set up with not much going on – this book was shorter than the first which added to how quickly it went by. I started and finished in a day.
The Black Shriving is what happens to that ruined castle Lady Ishka was banished too – except this time the demons are promising to go over the bounds of the castle and run rampant in the world – they have to stop them before that happens.
If you liked the first one I would say absolutely check this one out as well, I like where this is going and I can’t wait to get around to the next one!
Does the end truly justify the means??? For this particular novel, what the major protagonists did seem to.......
Book two, WOW!!!! Another page turning book, pringles in book form once you start you can not stop, the second book introduces the forgotten practice of sin casting or the path of the flame, the magic system for this reality, lost when the Ascendant gain dominance, Mr. Tucker is truly in his element for this one, every bend of the corner surprises abound, I hope he still has some left, for I will continue reading this series!!!
The Black Shriving is epic fantasy in the vein of Eddings and Brooks, with some Tad Williams sprinkled on for seasoning. Phil Tucker isn’t content to simply tell an interesting tale with high stakes, however. He sets these empire-shattering stakes in the midst of a brilliantly crafted and amazingly unique world that feels familiar in all the right ways while simultaneously offering fresh ideas.
I absolutely adore the world that Tucker has envisioned in these books. There are familiar pieces, certainly—knights, lords, ladies, pages—but these are set in a world where one must travel through Solar Gates in order to travel from one city/plane to another. This gets wrapped up in the religion of the world, as well. The dominate religious system believes that one’s soul ascends to the next plane when one dies and is reborn there, provided one’s behavior warrants it. Conversely, poor behavior might get one’s soul reincarnated one or more planes lower on the hierarchy. Wrapping the physical world building into the religious system is something that makes the whole setting feel both unique and authentic. In addition to the world build, Tucker has a way with writing action sequences that makes the fights leap off the page at you. They’re thrilling to read and keep you on the edge of your seat. The suspense of the battles is also aided by the fact that Tucker has really begun to flesh out his characters. I particularly enjoyed Audsley’s arc in this book, though there was growth on the part of each of the viewpoint characters. Finally—in terms of what I thoroughly enjoyed—this novel teases us with some tantalizing possibilities for the magic system. The concept of taint in magic could certainly be considered a trope after the Wheel of Time, but there are a lot of possibilities here and a lot going on. I can’t wait to see where Tucker takes things.
I have a couple criticisms. The first of those is that the pacing felt a bit slow for me in the early part of the novel, particularly in the second quarter of the novel. Things picked up again after the halfway point and rushed to a satisfying conclusion, but I felt like the second quarter had a different feel than the rest of the novel because of the slower pace. I also found it frustrating how the characters spend most of the story trying to hold to religious beliefs that don’t seem to align with what the actions they are currently taking. My issue with this was that none of the characters seemed to be particularly introspective regarding how their beliefs were obviously being revealed as false. This was partially alleviated during the endgame, but I just felt like Tucker could have added some interesting issues for his characters to wrestle with that would have helped us connect with them more.
Readers looking for their next big epic fantasy series should absolutely give the Chronicles of the Black Gate consideration. The Black Shriving is a great second entry for the series. Full of epic battles, important revelations, and characters striving against incredible odds, it quickly finds a comfortable place amongst one’s favorite epic reads.
5 – I loved this, couldn’t put it down, move it to the top of your TBR pile 4 – I really enjoyed this, add it to the TBR pile 3 – It was ok, depending on your preferences it may be worth your time 2 – I didn’t like this book, it has significant flaws and I can’t recommend it 1 – I loathe this book with a most loathsome loathing
Tucker continues his broad and sweeping epic in resounding fashion. As should be the case in a sequel, we get broader stakes, tighter scrapes, deeper characters, and an expanding view.
Everything that was great about the first book continues in this one, but it wasn't without a few issues for me. Keep in mind, though, that I'm an extremely picky audience member, and I hold books to a lot of standards that most readers don't. The things I usually dislike in these sorts of stories are typically things others enjoy the hell out of. Tharok's ending and the promise of what's still to come has kept my interest piqued, and so I've already downloaded #3. I had a couple of issues with this one, but make no mistake: this series remains fantastic and I recommend it to everyone who likes a deep, thinking man's (or woman's) epic fantasy.
We still have two disparate storylines here, set to converge in the next book it looks like, based on the title. The long chapters can make it a challenge to keep track of everyone now, as the separate groups have split into even more groups, but that's probably more my reading habits than anything - trying to get serious reading done with small children in the house... well, let's just say this took me 4x longer to read than it should have, at least. But Tucker is pulling the threads tighter at a gentle pace, building anticipation and avoiding the pitfalls of revealing everything too soon.
I mentioned some of my favorite characters in the first book, so let me touch on how they've progressed in this one:
Audsley - He made a terrible choice, but one he honestly had little say in. It's all at once terrifying what he's given himself over to and yet still admirable that he was willing to make such a sacrifice not to save himself, but to make sure he could save his friends. I have this image of the Terminator lowering into the molten metal at the end of T2, but Audsley has opportunity to fix what he had to break to survive and protect his friends. Let's hope he does.
Tharok - It's amusing to witness the disparity between circlet-Tharok and no-circlet-Tharok. But his vengeance is slowly coming to a boil, and it's going to be terrible to witness. He's a minorly sympathetic character in my book, but I'm not going to shed any tears if and when he gets killed. Where most of the characters do the right thing for the wrong reasons, Tharok instead does the wrong things for the right reasons. He makes an interesting mirror image of our protagonists as a whole because of that. To quote the old Buffalo Springfield song For What It's Worth, "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong."
Ser Wyland - Jander got the short end of the stick in here somewhere, pretty much railroaded out of town with little explanation. Somehow he's been branded as complicit or even a co-perpetrator of everything Lord Kyferin did when at his worst. It felt like an unfair surprise, really, a justification to vilify someone standing up for what he thinks is right because he doesn't agree with the MCs. One wonders where the forgiveness and clean slate handed to Ser Tiron were when it came to Ser Wyland; after all, Ser Tiron must have been involved in all the same crimes being attributed to Ser Wyland, no? Sadly, I think Ser Wyland's storyline is probably coming to an end, and what was a brave, upstanding man is going out as a scoundrel in the minds of our MCs, if not the readers.
Anyway, why are you still reading? Go get the first book if you haven't already.
If you want to know why 4 stars instead of 5, the simple answer is that A) I felt people turned away and in fact demonized the Ascendancy religion too quickly to feel organic (see Ser Wyland above), and B) the superpowers of Asho, Kethe, and Audsley rendered the other characters almost inconsequential except outside of combat.
Tough because the story has so much potential and I enjoyed this book more than the first. A lot more of the world was introduced and was described in better detail. And I'm still curious and eager to see how the story unfolds.
However, the story telling still lacks a bit of consistency and clarity. For me, its the misuse of multiple POV which is causing an unbalanced story. For example, Tharok is the only POV with his own unique plot. His character feels like its developing much better and faster than the others. Conversely, some plots are overusing POV causing them to drag on and on. Tiron especially had some chapters where he contributed nothing.
Author could've cut out 50-60 pages and gotten a more concise story. Next one is 700ish pages, please oh please let this be worth the read.
Man, this was such a fun read. Did not expect the slight horror elements but I loved every second of them. All characters stories were fascinating, although I have to say, that Thorak was at the beginning slightly less interesting to read about than for example Audsley who killed it this book, honestly. He really grew on me. His search for knowledge was exactly how I felt, I wanted to know and still do, what really happened at Starkadr and it's citizien (?).
In the end I am really looking forward to the next installment of the series.
Oh, what a followup! If anything, I'm sorry it took me so long to continue this series!
As always, apart from a couple of odd pronunciations Noah Michael Levine gives us a fantastic performance! His character voices and skill in manipulating tempo and inflections are top notch.
There are so many awesome things going on in this book, I hardly know where to begin.
We aren't introduced to any new POV characters, giving us the opportunity to get to know our established characters that much better.
There are some key developments in the magic system that make things much clearer, and also much more limited in its use.
I love the development in relationships between several of the characters as well as the development in understanding of what the demons are, what they can do, and how they seem to directly tie in with the magic in general.
There are a number of mysteries that are resolved, questions answered, and of course news ones presented. There are some deliciously shocking twists, especially toward the end.
And finally, the ending itself.
As with the first book, we have an ongoing escalation of climaxes that lead to an awesome finale that completely blows past anything in the first book.
I'm excited to be digging right into the next book!
I was nervous going into this one because I didn't think it could possibly be as good as The Path of Flames. As it turns out, it wasn't as good. It was better. The action was almost nonstop at times, and I loved the aspects of horror that worked their way into this one. There were also quite a few surprises when it came to character decisions and plot progression.
I also feel like Tucker improved as a writer between the first book and the second. Except for a few missed typos, the writing read very smoothly in this one.
Most of all, Tucker continued to make me care about his characters. Even Tharok's point of view had me caring this time, though still not as much as the rest of the story. I'm interested to see how his story is going to connect with the rest of the story in the coming books.
Overall, this was a worthy successor to the excellent first book. It was almost good enough to get one of my rare 10/10s.
The first book had a more low-fantasy setting, with magic only present at the very beginning and near the very end (and more subtly in Tharok's POV) but now the fantastical really steps up here. Starkadr, the Hold, Agerastos, Tharok's journey... all presented some fantastic things but never forgetting to still make things matter to characters.
Ascension, Starkadr, demons and the whole thing going on behind it all seems something orchestrated by Sanderson in steroids. Really good present story and backstory, ramifications on everything and on everyone.
Characters developed further as well. Tharok remained my favorite and Audsley rose immensely as my second, after a very shaky start in the first book.
Asho actually developed some humor, who would have thought. He's also in some serious trouble and the potential plot path for him that I kinda of wanted to at least see him thinking about when he gained powers showed its head here. I wonder if he'll do it.
Kethe here is pretty fatalist. I kinda of wished more than that from her, but she did make a great team with Asho.
Now a little rant. The problem with both of them, however, is that the answer to their problems pretty much lies with gaining/using more magical power and that they are... overpowered. Asho was portrayed as frail, a coward and racially disdained. Kethe was a young woman set in becoming a knight, a field dominated by men. She even forges her own armor to her specific needs and limitations. Both interesting plotlines, but all those challenges and obstacles are simply set aside when you simply have the power to fight whole armies, not even human armies, but demonic hordes ranging from thirteen feet six-legged monstrosities to demon dragons and archdemons.
Some people like this super powerful magic and one-two characters standing against thousands of ogres, demons, giants and etc (like Vin in Mistborn or in Japanese animations) but for me those rarely work in books.
Worst, the consequences and limitations of magic don't seem to matter either. Asho is obviously not gonna kill Kethe or "snuff out" in chapter twenty or thirty something fighting unimportant, nameless enemies. Kethe also won't die in those random battles and obviously won't fail the test that everyone says it's fatal as well. It's interesting that will put her at odds with people dear to her, though. The reminders of such perils in the usage of their powers happen often and become kinda of grating specially when 1)you're sure nothing will really happen and 2)it's confirmed indeed when even though characters faint or cough blood and etc from their powers, a few days later they appear fine and channel even greater power against even greater odds. Yes, Kethe really needs to go to Aletheia, but everyone knows she not only she will get there but will pass the trial. If this was written by or very similarly in style to GRRM or Abercrombie, both having no problems killing or crippling characters unexpectedly and without remorse, then I would fear for those characters, but at least in these two volumes, nothing of the sort prompted me to do so (though to be fair, the authors does pull such a moment, but with another character).
Anyway, moving to the other four characters:
Ser Tiron and Iskra go to Agerastos (with Tiron stopping at Starkadr first) and their chapters were really good. Their warmth for each other felt natural and relatable. They're the "mature" characters of the cast, without special powers and with far more limitations than the others, so I guess that does make their achievements or struggles more fascinating.
Tharok remained my favorite POV. His chapters gained even more fantastical lore and surprises. I have great expectations for his new "ally". When this guy finally unleashes his fury on the world, I want to be there to see it. And apparently it's coming very soon.
Finally, Audsley. In the first book I really didn't like his POV. In this one, though, If it wasn't for Tharok, Audsley would clearly steal the entire show. Or does it, if you didn't like Tharok that much. His scholar character type finally shines. He makes excellent insights and discoveries, both about the past and the present, gives us most of the excellent backstory and becomes really important with his discoveries. His quirks that annoyed me in the first book here became fascinating and I grew fond of the character. He now has to face challenges, make hard choices, and you feel the character growing and a lot of possibilities opening for him. It even felt bad when the relationship between him and his cat soured (for actually quite some dark reasons).
Starkadr, a place, does deserve special mention. A fantastic, creepy place. It's pretty much a character in itself and I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about the place. I just can't wait to see what they'll do with it.
We also get glimpses of Aletheia and visit Agerastos. Regarding Agerastos, I have to say that while for the two characters there it helped to develop them, the plot in itself (gain their support) was concluded with unbelievable speed. And we don't even get to see the terms and the proper negotiation. Worse, there's the death of someone dear to the powers-that-be of Agerastos and... apparently it didn't really matter (or maybe it will later) but the astounding speed in which this arc concluded was quite noticeable.
Overall, this was hard to put down and I really loved all the interconnections between the lore and the different characters. The author clearly thought a lot about it and really does clever things with those interconnections.
A good beginning, but the cameo starts flagging. I hope the author redeems himself on the 3rd book. There isn't much progress on the core narrative, and there is some stagnation on development of the characters.
The action continues straight on from where the Path of Flames left off. The story follows Tiron and Audsley's journey after they step through the mysterious portal, Asho and Kethe's journey into the mountains to investigate the second Black Gate, and Tharok's attempts to unite the kragh tribes and make an assault on the humans. The story rarely dips in terms of excitement but does start to follow a number of different paths and take on different paces. While there is exciting action as Asho and Kethe take on the demon hordes, there are moments of tense political debate and planning, and Audsley's exploration of Starkadr is of a different thrilling pace altogether. More of the greater plot is starting to be revealed as the humans banished from Ennoia start to plot their return to the world and the kragh start to plot their assault on that very same world. The story really developed over this book with different threads and plots forming and diverging, different aspects of the magic and mysticism of the world being explored and revealed, the very religion of the world being challenged and I am looking forward to seeing how these come together later on.
A very good read with a pretty original magic system and world. I have been binge reading this series starting book one like 5 days ago and am half way through book 4 now. Will write up a full review soon for my blog https://thebloggoblin.com/
While I enjoyed this book far more than the first and found it more "fun", the issues I glimpsed as a reader in the first book grew far more obvious and problematic here. Just lazy and uninspired plot-advancement toward the end.
First, the whole Tharok narrative has become painfully predictable...something goes well, then ends up twisting into the bad and then Tharok thinks of a miracle using the circlet and rejoices.
Also, it seems the writer gave up on creativity altogether, since now almost every character is in some way indebted to demons or a demonic object. The demons are simply supposed to be evil, with no agenda for one to be able to understand. It's hard to believe in a villain who just wants terrible things to happen for the sake of indulgence.
And what's with the romances? It seems Tiron (despite being a tortured and half-mad ex-knight) falls in love with literally the first woman he meets following his release. There's no logic as to why he falls for Iskara or how Iskara even has the time to notice him. The speed of events in Agerastos is ridiculous and highly implausible.
I can go on poking holes in the plot of the novel, but there wouldn't be a point. The book is fun to read, but in no way is it excellent or innovative as far as the fantasy genre. At best it's a good draft with potential for greatness. I hope the third installment will be better but, also, doubt it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I liked this book better than the first. Rather than Asho, I found myself rooting for Audsley. Weyland finally does something other than what you expect "knightly" characters in books to do.
Though the story didn't progress much - I didn't mind. The writing felt crisper, the characters were less angsty. There was still too much explaining of feelings for the benefit of the reader.
The magic system is revealed in greater detail. And more of the murky history of the world is understood. There is one chapter devoted to politics and it was well done: particularly enjoyed Tiron and Iskara's perspectives of the same event and her explaining the underlying political currents to Tiron.
I've enjoyed Path of Flames a lot, so once I've finished it I bought second book and plunged myself into Tucker's world once again. Overall I was impressed with the book. I've enjoyed the writing, twists, Audsley, Tiron, Tharok, Iskra development. On the other hand I felt tired by Asho and Kethe POV's chapters that felt too much like YA novella. I have nothing against YA and I know they're young and still need to discovea a lot about the world and themselves but I can't help but say that I just couldn't engage myself in the world seen through their eyes.
It's a solid book. Today I started reading third one and I hope it'll be just a little better than Black SHriving.
I read the Path of Flames (book one of the Chronicles of the Black Gate) as part of my participation in Self-Published Fantasy Month. Honestly, not having read many indie books in the past, I was expecting to jump back into one of the traditionally published books that makes up my (ever growing) TBR. However, I am having such a good time with this series that I continued on to book two. This second installment continued right where the first left off. My only complaint was that I felt like the pacing was somewhat inconsistent. There were moments where I felt like the plot was dragging as the storyline developed. But, for the most part, it was a page-turning affair. I often found myself staying up later than I should have to see what would happen next. This epic story includes incredibly high-stakes, is action packed, based in a unique world, and has old school fantastical elements. It includes religion, politics, magic, awesome swords, kragh (orcs), trolls, demons and medusas!
I was really glad to see an expanded role for Audsley. He is incredibly smart, cerebral, and loyal. The interactions with his firecat were both funny and genuine. Without giving much away, one of my favorite parts of the book was his willingness to sacrifice himself – physically (even though he is far from battle trained) and spiritually – for the greater good of his friends and those he serves.
As I mentioned in my review of book one, I wasn’t sure what to make of Tharok’s POV as it often felt a bit disjointed and was running along a parallel course with the other main characters. But, his arc really intrigued me. I am happy to say that I felt like his storyline has crossed over in this second installment and oddly enough has become one of my favorite POVs. He plans to bring down the humans and reunite the various kragh tribes. The circlet is leading him through a journey that he doesn’t quite comprehend, but trusts is his destiny. His arc has gone through many twists and turns, but I always enjoyed his chapters and reading about his great ambitions.
“His voice swelled with power and conviction. All eyes were on him. ‘We shall descend upon the human city of Abythos like an unstoppable tide. We shall sweep through their portal and into their empire. We shall choke their great cities in smoke and break their armies. We shall harvest their gold and take all their shaman stone. The time, my tribemates, of human domination is coming to an end.’”
Tucker did a great job expanding the world in this second book. We learn more about the solar gates, where one can travel from city to city. We experienced a few new lands, including the Sin Casters’ stonecloud, which was such a vivid and sometimes scary world. It included demons, lots of dead bodies, ancient tomes and so many portals! We leaped into the land of the heretics, getting a better sense of who they are and where they came from. Overall, the expanded worldbuilding was a great element of The Black Shriving.
Now, on to my favorite part of this book – the action scenes. Tucker knows how to write battle sequences! The fights jump off the page at you. More than a few times I was left holding my breath and felt exhausted as if I was fighting alongside my favorite characters. Not only are the scenes exhilarating but they also have great prose. I came for the characters and worldbuilding and stayed for the action sequences.
“A panoply of war cries rent the air, and Audsley saw all the flying creatures orient on him. He was suddenly the nexus of the swarm, their sole focal point, and they drew in, creatures large and small, winged or flying of their own volition like him; winged corpses wreathed in shadow, serpents of bone, great and monstrous eagles with the wings of bats. Audsley screamed and spun away as something dive-bombed at him, barely missing, then a second opened his shoulder with its talons as it flew by.”
This second installment is worth the read and I am invested in this series. This is evidenced by the fact that I will be jumping right into book three. I am so confident in the series that I recently purchased books three and four. The Chronicles of the Black Gate is an epic, indie series that I definitely recommend.