Friday, September 19, 2014

Skyfire - Book Review

Oh. My. Gosh.

If you've read the first review (which you should) you'll already know about the awesome writing, powerful description, great character development, and amazing plot.

The sequel takes that and increases it tenfold. You can buy Skyfire here.

First of all, the world the book takes place in is massively bigger. Not just geographically, but also with the lore, the plot, and the characters. Let's take a look at these one by one.

The previous novel, Song of the Summer King, took place exclusively on a tiny set of islands in the middle of a large sea. The descriptions of the various locations were vivid and the reader can really feel like they're in the middle of this gorgeous landscape.

In this novel, Skyfire, we still see that gorgeous little island, but we see it in the bleakness of winter, which serves as a metaphor for the damaged gryfon pride still living there. On top of that, we also visit the Dawn Spire, and the surrounding lands. A land so large that Shard, our island dweller, can hardly fathom it. We also meet many new and interesting creatures in this new land - painted wolves, grass lions, eagles, and - yes - dragons. Each group of animals have a special culture and play an important part in the novel.

The new gryfons we meet, too, have interesting roles to play. But I risk spilling too much if I mentioned what those roles are...

The lore of Song of the Summer King is familiar, yet unique. Readers will recognize some of the tropes Owen uses in her book. At the same time, they are used in new ways, and mold into something identifiable, but interesting.

Skyfire expands the lore greatly and readers get to see far more in this new book than the previous one. Perhaps the most interesting of the new lore comes from the new cultures we see. For example, Shard encounters a gryfon culture that is so advanced that they even preserve meats with salt and use fire. Awesome.

More importantly, though, we get some answers to the lore questions left behind in Summer King, particularly about the conquering gryfon pride of Per-the-Red.

And the long awaited answers are worth the wait.

The plot, as can be expected, is also a step up from the previous novel. The plot bounces back and forth between Shard, searching for a vision in a new land, and the damaged pride of the Silver Isles. The new and often wonderful experiences Shard has makes an excellent foil against the distrust, hatred, and fear the gryfons of Sverin's pride feels.

The thing I enjoy most about both books is the plot is very character driven. Everything that happens is based on character decisions, sometimes good, sometimes bad. And everything has a consequence. None of the events or character development feels forced. It flows naturally and readers will feel something for every character they meet.

I don't want to spoil anything, but make sure you have a tissue box near by - you may find that your favorite character may not live through the tale.

Finally, the characters. Song of the Summer King stayed very close to Shard, the main character. Nearly every scene was done through his point of view, third person, with very few exceptions.

In Skyfire, Shard has been physically separated from his pride and, for most of the novel, his homeland, so we get the privilege of seeing the story unfold through many character's point of views. Some of the best ones come from Sigrun, Shard's adoptive mother, Kjorn, Shard's wingbrother and best friend, and even through Sverin, Shard's mortal enemy. All these points of view give us a stronger, better understanding not just of the traditions and customs of the gryfons, but also of the harsh struggles they face throughout the novel.

This book is flat out amazing. Oftentimes, sequels don't match up to their first books. They are either too slow or too quick or they change characters and worlds in ways that don't work. But Skyfire had my heart from the moment I opened it. And it shows too. It only took me two days to read it.

And it did what very few books have ever made me do. It made me cry in the best way possible.

So go out and read it now!

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