Publisher: Random House
Edition: Galley, 2009
I really liked the first one and have been waiting for the second installment for a long long time. The second book still works. My initial quibble of not believing Beka able to write all of the stuff down in her journal still stands — even with the explanation of ciphers and reports and how events are chopped down into several installments. Still seems a bit far-fetched. However, I guess if one believes in ghost-carrying pigeons and a young woman talking to street dust winds, one has to somewhat allow her to be able to write dialogs and descriptions in such minute details when recording her own exploits.
That’s another thing: the pacing is a bit draggy at moments because it seems a bit too much of JUST Beka — just her thoughts, just her experiences, and just her achievements. All the secondary characters (POUNCE, for example, who is absent for most of the story) take a real Secondary position here. Achoo the hound, although very important to the plot, is not satisfying as a strong supporting character because she is too much of a hound, no human traits at all. I love her, but she cannot replace Pounce whose wry humor adds so much to the flavor of the story.
Dale, as a secondary character at the beginning of the story, never got his chance to even remain in that position. By mid-book, he’s already just a bit of thoughts in Beka’s mind. This shows Beka’s dedication to her work and how incredibly sensible she is, but I feel slightly let down by Dale’s demotion. He definitely could have played a larger part in the story (either helping or hindering Beka’s tasks) because he was positioned to do so from the get go (but peters out…)
Having Hanse explain all the rhymes and reasons seems a bit of an easy and very basic mystery device (for that is what this series is… Law and Order meets Tortall Fantasy.) I was hoping for huge surprises and unexpected villains and deeper plots.
Oh, I sound too critical, I do believe. Going to end by saying that I definitely enjoyed following Beka through the streets, watching her eat sea food, seeing her fight various villains — above ground and underground. It’s great to be back in the land of such cool magic. Am I now again eagerly waiting for the next book? You betcha!