Once again a foray into the magical world of Emelan leaves you breathless and wanting more. The richness and texture of Pierce's novels drags you right in from the start and holds you there captive as you walk the walk and feel the emotions of her characters.
Living Circle adherents and plant mages Dedicate Rosethorn and Briar, along with apprentice rock mage Evvy (Evumeimei), have been travelling for two years and we find them in the Kingdom of Gyongxe, the home of many faiths. Actually a sanctuary for faiths we discover as the story continues. The first temple of the Living Circle is here. This is a place where the mountains meet, ruled by the eleven year old God-King, where painted gods move on walls and statues come to life.
The Three journey into the Kingdom of Yanjing and there find disturbing evidence that the emperor, a man of of exceeding ambition and cruelty has turned his face towards the seat of the gods to declare his god head. He intends to invade. As Dedicate Dokyi later says, '[the Emperor] hears Gyongxe is the spindle on which the world turns. He thinks if he takes Gyongxe, people will say he is the spindle.'
The three leave to warn the God-King and the temples. As they leave they release a captive prince, Parahan. All are pursued by the emperor's soldiers and mages.
Evvy is captured and tortured. In her tortured state she is drawn through rock to safety by the song of Luvo, the heart of a mountain. Luvo becomes an important friend and force to be reckoned with.
Terrible battles, shamans, mages and and walking gods are part of the ensuing conflict.
As Rosethorn declared, 'Weishu...the emperor of Yanjing was a monster in human skin.'
All are fighting for a secure, safe world against insurmountable odds.
An absolutely fabulous addition to the Circle stories.
A NetGalley ARC