Lore is something that keeps me totally invested in a book. Give me a well thought out world where there is far much more going on than is in just the setting of the primary story, and we’ve got something. I’m not talking about the insane heights of world building like J.R.R. Tolkien or George R.R. Martin does, but I find myself more sucked into a story where you get little hints and mentions of other lands, or random factoids that just traipse across the page because they can, and not because the are 100% germane to the story.
This is the sort of detail that has made the current two Something Dark and Holy books so enjoyable to read.
Wicked Saints had a fun little romp with some toyed at romance and political intrigue. Ruthless Gods is all nitty gritty. To be honest, I’m not sure there are many scenes where someone isn’t bleeding.
Ultimately, this epic-ness of a middle book really blows the lightness of the first one out of the water. There are definitely small gems of joy that pop up throughout the story, but, by and large, it really lives up to the “dark and holy” moniker of the series.
Nadya is running away from all magic, Serefin is pretty much being torn apart, and there is never any telling if it’s going to be Malachiasz or the Black Vulture who shows up to a conversation… Sometimes both.
I absolutely love the way magic is presented in this series: as not just a singular thing from a singular source. We have divine magic, blood magic, relic magic, and probably several other versions that we just haven’t had the opportunity to unveil. Nothing is easy in these stories (not even dying), and nothing is sacred or safe. Beautiful scenes open onto eldritch horrors, and not even Divinity is as it seems.
I cannot wait for, but am totally terrified by, what lies between the covers of book number three. Also, there just aren’t enough tales set in a Slavic setting.
By the way, I just wanted to throw it out there that I would absolutely buy a set of the “reference books” Ms. Duncan quotes in the epigraphs of each chapter. I feel like I really need them in my life.