Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: The Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe

Five years have passed since the events of the first book and Malian and Kalan have gone into hiding. The heralds Jehane Mor and Tarathan arrive at the city of Ij during the grand festival of masks. There they find Haimyr minstrel of the house of night who attempts to solicit their aid in finding Malain as he refuses to believe that she is dead and the house of night needs her now more than ever. The heralds decline the offer and soon find themselves in a cat-and-mouse game of survival as an unknown force assassinates the members of the heralds guild across the city. Meanwhile a cartographer master Carrik has had to evade outlaws to reach a keep in the wilderness and fulfil his commission. Things at the keep however are not as simple as they seem.

The problem with a lot of middle books is that after the success of a debut novel the author tries to replicate the formula verbatim and delivers something too similar to the original. Lowe neatly side steps this problem. Her second novel has a very different feel and atmosphere to the original and I loved the change of pace and espionage feel to the opening with the heralds. With most of the action taking place away from the wall Lowe introduces us to some other interesting places in Haarth and the peoples and cultures are well realized and very believable. Malian and Kalan are also different people and certainly more mature than five years ago and Lowe moves very much away from the coming of age hero story in the original.

Overall Lowe second effort is stronger than the very good original and one of the better middle books I’ve read in some time. 8.5/10.

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