Stephen Hunt continues to build a compelling world with this, his second Jackelian, novel.

Although the publishers would have you believe that these books can be read in any order I would advise that you stick to the order of publication. The world they detail is so rich in detail and broad in scope of imagination that it can be a little bewildering at times. This is heightened by Stephen Hunt’s unwillingness to explain or describe things in too great a level of detail. This makes it all the more important to have had the opportunity to read the description of a race of people or a country or device when it is first mentioned.

If I had not read the first Jackelian (so called because the books detail events in and around The Kingdom of Jackals) book I would have struggled to really grasp quite what was being described in this book. I had that same experience reading the first book but enjoyed this second book so much more because I had encountered these strange places/customs/beings before. I am thrilled that this has happened because I very much wanted to enjoy the first book but found that lack of description a bit of a barrier to my ability to inhabit the world of the novel. If the author does not allow you ample opportunity to to understand the things described (or not, as the case may be) then the reader is only allowed to immerse into that world to a restricted depth.

I also found the characterisation in this book much more enjoyable and this time around felt like I was allowed to form a bond with the characters. This is just as well because there are some great characters here.

As with the previous book the imagination on show is quite extraordinary. The mix of magic, science and weird creatures is thrilling and immensely enjoyable.

Most of my gripes with the first book have been eradicated by this book. Most, not all. Stephen Hunt occasionally throws in a sentence that takes three or four reads to decipher. This is massively disruptive for the reader. You get into a flow you’re really enjoying the events and places and then you have to stop to unpick a poorly written sentence. Most annoying.

Annoyance aside I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a vast improvement over it’s predecessor and I look for ward to reading the third book now. I just hope that Mr Hunt stops using flow-killing sentences.



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