Time for an audiobook review. I have really liked the audiobooks that I’ve listened to in this series thusfar, and so when I was offered this one to review, I absolutely jumped on it.
Be careful what you strive for.
The people won and now Mareth is Lord Protector of Edland. But winning an election is a lot different than governing a country, especially when the empire of Pyrfew is expanding into the Sapphire Sea. In the interests of peace, Mareth must dispatch Alana to Ioth, city of a thousand lights, to convince the ruling merchants to turn their back on the empire. Neenahwi, armed with the knowledge revealed to her in her coming of age ceremony, desperately wants to determine Pyrfew’s plans and to take the fight to the emperor. But Llewdon, ancient elven emperor of Pyrfew, has had decades to develop his schemes and his agents are embedded in the least expected places. Everything seems to revolve around the disappearance of Jyuth’s master a millennia ago.
Will the heroes of Kingshold be able to survive fire belching ships, strange slimes, sinister doppelgängers, demon dogs, greedy merchants and past vices to lead Edland to safety?
After the events of book one, this volume of the Wildfire Cycle catches up with all the characters from book one. Mareth is busy being Lord Protector, a role he is quite good at but kind of needs a break from; Neenahwi is trying to figure out what Llewdon’s plans are before they can come to fruition; Alana is the newly appointed ambassador of Edland to Ioth, and travels there to improve relations with the City of Lights; and Motega, Trypp, and Florian are doing what they do best…. ^_^
This series has such great characters, and they are super easy to cheer for. I especially cheered for Alana in this one, a character I mostly overlooked in book one (not because I didn’t like her, but more that I just… sort of didn’t latch onto her as much). In this volume she is holding her own, and when shenanigans break out while she is doing her ambassadorial duties, she defends herself, to the surprise of most of the people of Ioth present.
I liked this one even more than Kingshold. I am more familiar with the characters to start with, and so it felt like coming back to a well loved series after a long break. A long self-imposed break, perhaps, but still long. The writing was solid, and flowed nicely. This one was never boring, and the pacing was very good. It’s hard sometimes, with a book from several points of view to stay at a good pace without becoming confusing, but this one manages. We even get to see this one from the point of view of some of the common people of Pyrfew, the enemy nation constantly on the brink of war with Edland. We see how the people live, and how they see their emperor, which was interesting, and gave a really nice look at the other side of things.
Motega, Florian, and Trypp are my favorite characters in this series, and the banter between the three of them is still very much present. I like how they are very good at what they do (mostly fighting) while not being infallibly good at it. One of them does actually get pretty severely injured in this one. There are plenty of twists and turns like that in this series. A few things that I did not expect to happen at all happened and unexpectedly got me in the feels pretty good.
Sheila Dearden did a good job with narration on this one as well. She particularly nails Neenahwi’s sometimes very crass attitude, and I love it. I did listen to Kingshold and the Tales of Kingshold anthology rather than read them, so at this point, her telling me the story of Mareth, Neenahwi, Alana and everyone was a great, familiar way of taking in the story.
All told, I can say that if you liked Kingshold, you will very likely like Ioth, City of Lights as well. A wonderful dive into a different part of the world, with all the characters I loved from the first volume returning for shenanigans all over the world. 4.5/5 stars!