|Michael Whelan's cover art astounds as always. Check him out here.|
We begin shortly after the previous book ends, with Simon and his company held captive or hosted as warriors (depending on the individual) in the ice-bound land of the trolls. Simon continues to be baffled by the Sithi, especially his friend Jiriki, and by the world at large. He mercifully grows more mature in this book, but many of his characteristics remain all the same. Williams does a fine job of keeping Simon's character consistent while allowing him to grow through experience.
This book's narrative is considerably more spread out than the first's, although I don't recall there being any new POV characters. It's more that rather than keeping the narrative focused on Simon for a third of the book before expanding slowly to encompass the whole world, Williams brings all the POV characters into play early on and keeps them all in play until the end. This actually helps balance the book a bit more for me, because each chapter has a couple of perspectives and the groups tend to alternate by chapter so that we get Simon and related characters, followed by another group, cycling through with every two or three chapters. Unlike the lengthy single-POV chapters of the Wheel of Time series, Williams' chapters, divided into briefer sections, kept me from growing restless with any one POV or longing for a specific POV. I always knew I was within a chapter of any character I missed.
This book did not feel, as many middle books do, like a padded filler book bridging the beginning and the end. It had plenty of mystery and intrigue working in its favor, and the major deaths (on a plot level; no POV characters die; yet) add weight to the sometimes distant threat of the Storm King's growing influence. I was sad to see that Pryrates isn't as strong a dark figure in this book, but the sequences featuring him are worth the wait.
Miriamelle's character arc in this book surprised me, primarily because I saw her through a more mature set of eyes. I sided with Cadrach in many of their disagreements, recognizing her foolishness where before I had sided with her because I trusted her version of events more since she was a POV character. I'm eagerly awaiting the conclusion to her solo arc and her arcs with certain characters that will come in the third book.
Tiamak gains ground as a major character in this book, though for some reason I remembered his journey taking more story time. Perhaps because the book took longer for me to read the first time?
I really, really, really want someone to create a working game of shent. It, along with Pai Sho from the Avatar universe, is one of the few fictional games to capture my imagination.
The character whose identity is revealed at the end of the book caught me by surprise even though I knew it was coming. I spent half my time reading the book asking when he would show up, and then it hit me upside the head. Again.
To Green Angel Tower is 1000 pages long in hardback, so don't expect that review to come before mid-July at the earliest.