PALE KINGS by Micah Yongo.
Angry Robot. p/b. £9.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
Only a few surviving members of the Brotherhood remain. For some reason, Arianna has recovered from the fever but Neythan is still held in its throes. The young assassin’s future now rests on his remembering the forgotten secrets of his past, yet no matter how hard he tries, forgotten is forgotten. It will be up to Filani and her methods to help him.
Sidon is ruler now and will make his own choices, despite his mother’s best efforts to guide him in another direction. In the aftermath of Geled’s destruction he and Josef search for a survivor – someone who can help them put together the pieces of what happened and understand the Brotherhood’s involvement.
Joram, true heir to the Five Lands Sovereignty, has a past that is in no way straightforward or innocent. He will pursue his rule… no matter what. Meanwhile, in the oldest city in Calapaar, Daneel has more than just hunger and the mob and the Cityguards to worry about.
Pale Kings is the sequel to Lost Gods and this time Arianna has stepped back almost completely as a point of view character and Neythan has given up much more of his page time to a host of other characters, wonderfully rich in their diversity and motives. Joram, in particular, is a stand out as his true colours begin to show.
The multiple characters and storylines can be hard to keep track of at times and the reader does need to invest full concentration in this book to keep everything making sense. In return, more of Yongo’s unique world, heavy with African influence, is revealed, opening out the story to allow a much broader scope of possibilities and conflicts.
This second in the series moves at a better pace; a more confidently employed style of narration driving events in each location to create tension and keep each sub-plot moving. Surprise and shock are used to great effect throughout. Overall a very readable traditional fantasy with a pleasingly non-traditional backdrop.