I read A Touch Of Light and A Shade of Madness back to back and I am so glad I did as it made for a truly epic experience. I cannot tell you the amount of times I felt my blood pressure hit the roof, especially towards the back end of the book. Thiago truly delivers in book two, bigger stakes, bigger action and a story that is building up to what will doubt be a fantastic book three.
A Shade Of Madness literally begins moments after the events of book one. If, in your case, it has been a good while since you read A Touch of Light, fear not, as Thiago begins with a succinct and very helpful ‘story so far..’ at the beginning of the novel. This is something I appreciate not every author has the time of energy to do, but it isn’t half helpful when you have left a chunk of time since the last book.
Having dealt with much of the world building in book one, Thiago is able to really start to grow and evolve our three main characters, Adrian, Lynn and Nasha. We really get to delve deeper into each of their psyches, their emotions and thoughts as their individual stories progress.
Adrian, now in a foreign land, has to deal with the aftermath of the death of Khalia and the Xakhar and to try and form an army to rebuild the Legion. What follows is perhaps my favourite arc of the three, even though I thoroughly enjoyed all three. Adrian’s morality and judgement is put through the wringer and he has some outstanding (and stressful!) moments in the story. He has to assail political and cultural obstacles and take control of the madness that sweeps the lands in order to prevail. His story thread had me shouting at the pages at certain points. Like I said. High blood pressure!
Lynn, meanwhile, gets the most action packed of the story threads. Here, Thiago really impressed me with his action scenes. His prose is clear and fluid and allows the action to roll along nicely, building up to crescendos of emotion and excitement. I found myself hooked page after page and reading faster in the urgent need to know if my favourite characters are ok. Are they alive? Are they injured? Whats happening to everyone else? Lynn’s storyline was my favourite in book one and continued to be captivating. Also griffins. Lots and lots of Griffins and airships. Her storyline is just badass.
Nasha’s storyline was the one I engaged with the least in book one, but still enjoyed nonetheless. This time round I definitely connected more and found myself as invested as the other two. Throughout the book she continues to try and understand her magic, or her curse, and that really starts to bloom and evolve . In the back half of the book her story thread really starts to cook and I found myself wanting to know what happens next in the Clanlands and how it fits into the larger picture.
We also have a fourth POV in a character called Kadmus. His storyline is a great addition to the story and offers a different tone and feel. His stakes are smaller than the others, but no less impactful or important. What makes his arc exciting is that he starts to interact with some of the other characters we have got to know and starts to bring a cohesion to certain aspects of the story. I really enjoyed his path and the emotional and moral questions he has to ask himself.
Thiago is honing his craft with this second book. The pacing is good, there weren’t any particular area’s where I thought it sagged or slowed down too much. I always appreciate the slower more introspective moments characters have, but I also know this can slow down the story for some readers. I love how the story is progressing, I love the deepening of lore and worldbuilding that a second book in a series allows and Thiago has fun with it here.
If you loved A Touch Of Light you will, no doubt in my mind, love A Shade of Madness. Thiago continues to bring heart-stopping moments, breath-taking action sequences and a deepening of a fantasy tale I am dying to read more of. 4.5/5
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