Time’s Demon by DB Jackson
Angry Robot, pb, £8.99
By Laura Castells Navarro
Time’s demon is the second book of The Islevale Circle and continues the story where Time’s Children left it; Tobias, Mara and Sofya, on board of Captain Larr’s Dove being chased by Orsili, his assassins and allied Belvora. As theirs could turn to be an unending chase unless the two groups come head-to-head, to survive, Tobias and Mara will have to decide whether they trust Captain Larr’s crew and explain theirs and Sofya’s story. Told alongside, are the stories of Cresten Padkar, a student from Windhome living a couple of decades before this newly created present, and that of Droë, a Tirribin befriended by, first, Cresten and then Tobias and Mara.
In essence, four stories, with their distinctive points of view, intertwine. As with the previous book, the same point of view is maintained for more than one chapter, allowing the action and scenes to develop until they reach a natural down, thus despite the different viewpoints, the narrative remains fluid and cohesive. If there is something in abundance in this book is fights and chases, and DB Jackson succeeds at building and maintaining the narrative tension in them, keeping the reader turning pages and hoping it will turn out well. However, again, one of the best features of this book are the characters as protagonists and antagonists; human and non-human are relatable, round, complex and multi-faceted with worries, dreams and hopes. In this sense, I felt that the most interesting was Cresten’s arc. His is one of struggle; to find his place in the school and in the world and his transformation from a naïve school-boy to a cunning lowlife is not only phenomenal but also very well thought through and neatly weaved into the main story line.
As with the first book, there is very little world-building, again the reader is made aware that there are different cultures and a wide variety of human and demon magick but these are not really developed. This issue is particularly conspicuous with the transformation of Droë, who wishes to become an adult and gain human feelings and sensations and is ready to take dangerous paths and to trade with other demons to fulfil it. Her transformation, performed by an Arrokand, a creature of the sea, is supposed to be unprecedented and extremely dangerous but because the magick of the demons is not explored at any point, as a reader, one has to accept those statements instead of understanding the importance of such an event. Despite being interesting, I did not really understand what Droë’s personal struggles bring to the story. Hers is a stand-alone story that only crosses with that of Tobias’s and Orzili’s in the most crucial point of the entire book and, rather disappointingly, hastily defuses a tension between these two characters; a tension that had been painstakingly built up since the beginning of the first book. As in the previous review, I asked myself what had happened to Orzili to become a mercenary he is and I got my answer, in this book, I am thus hopeful that in the next book I will understand how Droë’s line fits in in this world. To sum up, hopefully, the next instalment will not take long to appear.