Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Book 40: Days of Blood and Starlight

The sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone may be one of the few sequels that is just as good if not potentially better than its sequel.  While Taylor explained a bit about both the world of angels and the chimaera in her previous novel, she mostly focused on the demon world, especially since Karou regained her memories of her previous life as a chimaera and apprentice to Brimstone.  In this one, the reader learns more about the world of the angels, and Akiva's siblings and their status as the bastard children of the angels' leader.  And I expect the third novel to be just as interesting because Taylor has raised a few more questions that are unanswered, such as the independent angel tribe, and the actual story behind the Fallen, something alluded to in the first novel but still not explained in full.
All of Karou's friends have not heard from her for months, and fear she may be dead.  Akiva also believes she is dead after his revelation regarding his role behind the destruction of her family and her city.  The reader soon learns that Karou is in fact alive, and that she has teamed up with the surviving warriors of the chimaera, taking over the role that Brimstone once filled so the chimaera can continue their war against the angels.  Karou feels disconnected and ostracized from her fellow survivors, but she also blames herself for what happened and at least partially understands this reaction.  Karou definitely does not act like the headstrong teenage girl of the first novel and is much more subdued but it is entirely understandable - in that novel she was first trying to fit in as a regular teenager, and then on a quest to find and possibly avenge her family.  In this novel, she feels responsible for their death, has absolutely no friends around her, and the love of her life is the one behind the attack on her kind in a misguided attempt to avenge her death.
While Karou tries to figure out a way to save the rest of her people, Akiva attempts to find a way to redeem himself.  Though the angels believe the war is over, the higher command has sent the former angel soldiers on a mission to purge, destroy and enslave the remaining free chimaera, many of whom are farmers, and unable to defend themselves.  Many of the angels begin questioning their actions and purpose at this point, but this is when the chimaera begin their campaign of guerilla warfare.  Akiva's two closest siblings, introduced in the first novel, also begin to soften to his world view as the lines of right and wrong become questionable without the clarity of a war for survival.
Obviously the book is rather dark, and I actually quite enjoyed the fact that there are obstacles between Karou and Akiva.  So many pieces of fiction easily forgive the protagonists for the bad things they have done without truly looking at the implications, and generally, it is easy to go along with as a consumer of this type of fiction (see Angel in Buffy, Damon or Stefan in The Vampire Diaries etc.) so it is actually refreshing when it is presented as a dilemma.  Within all this, Zuzana, Karou's best friend from Prague, serves as a type of comic relief.  I feel like she was a bit more cynical in the first novel while here she borders on manic pixie girl, but for the most part she stays on the right side of the line between entertaining and annoying.  I definitely can't wait for the third novel to come out, and am very impressed with the world that Taylor has developed in these stories. 

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