In Brief: Tom Lloyd’s second in this series, The Twilight Herald, continues recounting the ascent of Isaak, a former wagon boy, to Lord of the Farlan and chosen of the gods. The book strives for a legendary tone, with powerful characters seeking artifacts, weapons, and bold military and strategic victories.
Pros: Lloyd’s familiarity with many of the conventions of high/epic fantasy (along with, presumably, his editorial background) helps him avoid pitfalls and cliches. The main characters, including Isaak, are strongly written and fairly approachable (no mean feat since some of them are super-heroic and/or immortal).
Cons: The pacing seemed uneven at times, with a lot of slow building as the players make their way to Scree and the big showdown. The insertion of certain bits of background history and prophecy seemed labored, almost ham-fisted at points. This is a second book, and it has that feel of setting up for the next one.
Review: The Twilight Herald picks up directly after the first book in Tom Lloyd’s fantasy series, The Strormcaller (reviewed here). Lord Isaak has only just assumed the mantle of Duke of the Farlan, and he immediately faces a rebellion of some of his own banner men, as well as the political fallout from new alliances and the previous Farlan Lord’s death. Isaak faces these challenges with measure of clumsy resolve, humility, and raw power. Understandable, as he’s a young White-Eye still learning about his power and the nature of his bond to Nartis, God of Storms, and patron of the Farlan.
Meanwhile, in the City-State of Scree, Rojak, a mysterious servant of the shadow-god Azaer, has begun putting on very strange plays in the heart of the city. Scree is on the verge of civil war, with the ruling White Council having been defeated elsewhere in the region, and the regent of Scree has begun employing mercenaries to assist with defenses. Among these is Zhia Vukotic in disguise. Zhia is a powerful vampire cursed with a soul and a conscience, who, like Isaak, carries a crystal skull (ancient artifact of power). Also in Scree, the Abbot of a sacked monastery, who is hiding his own crystal skull from the former monk who burned the monastery and killed many of his brothers. This rogue monk, we soon learn, serves Rojak now.