“What’s a Wraith Knight to do?”
Jacob Riverson has assumed the mantle of the King Below and now rules over all the Shadowkind races. However, his desire to break the cycle of violence between the peoples of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms is doomed. The Nine Heroes will not rest until not just the Dark Lord is slain, but all of his followers.
Jacob thus sets out on a daring but foolhardy mission to a great northern city in order to recruit an army of allies. He hopes to break the Nine Heroes’ army gathering there before it can be used against him. Unfortunately, that may divide his own forces. The Shadowkind, his wives, and secretive forces beyond his own control want a war every bit as much as Jacob’s enemies.
I often mention in my reviews the sophomore slump, that tendency of a second book in a series to be a bit of a letdown after an especially good series debut. I can happily say that Wraith Lord suffers no letdown from Wraith Knight, and is equal to or surpasses it in every measure, whether it be world building, depth of characters or action and pacing.
One thing I loved about Wraith Knight was the grimdark sense of moral ambivalence, the sense that the “Hero” wasn’t so much an anti-hero, and more an anti-villain, fairly amoral and very much and ends justify the means character. This book increases that trend, as all three of the triumvirate of Dark Gods are morally flexible at best, and power hungry potential despots at worst. Still, in comparison to the truly evil Nine Heroes, they come across pretty well.
The world building is top notch, with The Shadowlands expanded upon, as well as adding Kerifas as a setting, with its huge disparity in rich and poor quarters, and it’s long history as disputed territory. The new and expanded creature types are interesting, and the added characters, especially Ketras, really add to the story. All these characters seem like real people in the worst situation, with their flaws magnified by the stresses placed upon them, and some of them rising above it to do the right thing, whatever that may be.
The narration is performed by Peter Berkrot, a veteran actor and rising star in the audiobook world. He does such a great job adding emotional resonance to the characters, really bringing them to life. He has excellent narrative pacing as well, so you are always engaged throughout, and can’t wait to hear what comes next.
The action scenes are well written, and the final battle scene has so many twists I just didn’t see coming. Overall, its more of what made Wraith Knight such a grimdark gem to read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Rating: 9.75/10 Stars