Remember when I told you The Thousand Names was pretty heavy on military jargon, tactics, drills…? Well, guess what? You will (almost) find nothing of the sort in The Shadow Throne!
I found the drastic switch of tone, setting and context to be a masterstroke on Wexler’s part and a very refreshing change. I don’t think I ever read a sequel so completely different from its predecessor.
“This is real. This is history, before it is history.”
For one, the story takes place in Vordan City (reminiscent of a 18th century Paris or London), so different of the great desert of Khandar, its grey skinned people, its zealous Redeemer priests and redoubtable Desoltai tribes. Moreover, while TTN focused on a military campaign, The Shadow Throne featured a war of another kind, mixing politics, economy, philosophy and spying. Which made for a quite unpredictable and exciting plot, given that multiple factions carried out their own schemes or treacheries and mucking up their rivals’ own plans, sometimes without even knowing it!
“A perfect record of treachery is just as predictable as one of impeccable loyalty. You simply must always expect to be stabbed in the back, and you’ll never be surprised.”
Another amazing aspect of the book is Wexler’s representation of female characters. Girls seize control in TST! Wexler created a large cast of real, relatable women, with flaws, doubts, and fears and with courage and principles. The way they defy the norms and punch back is inspiring and to be honest, makes their male counterparts pale in comparison.
The fantasy aspect is better developed in TST, if not prevailing. I loved learning more about the naaths or readings, or demons: magical entities manifesting in their summoner’s mind or soul and granting them specific, unique powers and skills. X-men style! 😀 They added a creepy, fascinating and sometimes gory facet to the story.
Despite all these amazing elements, my enjoyment of TST was a bit dampened by a rather extensive, and sometimes boring, description of every district of the city and by the fact that a few intrigues and outcomes happened backstage and were given only cursory explanations. I can’t decide if it’s laziness on Django’s part or just deemed a necessity for the plot’s sake? 🙂
All in all and despite my few complaints, TST was a great book and a surprising, suspenseful sequel to the Thousand Names. Its historical influences and its philosophical and societal debates added a welcome, thought-provoking touch to this fantastical rendition of a revolution.
Review by Haïfa.
Read in November, 2017.