Warlock’s Sun Rising by Damien Black

Series: Broken Stone Chronicle #2 Rating: 4/5
Date of Publishing: September 6th 2017 Genre: fantasy, epic fantasy, dark fantasy
Format: Kindle Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 658 Author’s website: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6432407.Damien_Black

“Ours is not the luxury to choose between good and evil either. All we have before us are choices, decisions we’ll make influenced by probability.”

– Earth Witch

Blurb

As a mad warlock pursues the power to enslave kingdoms, two monks seek an unholy alliance with a sorceress to stop him…

Witch hunters Horskram and Adelko have foiled a wizards’ plot to conquer their homeland, but the mastermind remains at large. Now they face a race against time to find him, as he raises a superhuman army of Wadwos bent on conquest of the Free Kingdoms.

Accompanied by five of the best swords in the land - and the feckless squire Vaskrian - the two Argolians must brave the enchanted Argael forest and seek the elusive Earth Witch to have any chance of locating Horskram's mortal foe Andragorix.

Time is of the essence, as the web of deceit spun by Andragorix’s allies spreads across the realms of mortalkind to ensnare Pangonia, most powerful of the Free Kingdoms.

And on the Other Side, the King of Gehenna watches...

Personal notes

First of all, I’ve got an ARC in exchange of an honest review. From my review of Devil’s Night Dawning you might already know that I have a personal history with Damien, but that doesn’t stop me to criticise his books if I choose to do so. And I do. It’s been almost a year since I’ve read Warlock’s Sun Rising – thankfully I started to put down notes and summaries of books I’m reading around that time. Actually I started to do this because of this book. So I can keep up with my reading and can take a look at it when I get to the next book in a series. Or touch up an old review apparently, from a time when I hardly wrote reviews, if at all. Note to self: stop translating names while writing summaries in Hungarian… or even better, stop writing those summaries in Hungarian in the first place.

Song of the Book

Knowing Damien he is more into the rock bands of the 70’s and 80’s, but honestly, that’s not my era and while I probably would find a better fitting song from those bands, I had to work with what I know. I think The Devil In Our Wake from Shaman’s Harvest new album is – if not perfect – but the lyrics put it quite right:

“Say goodbye to your home before it’s gone
Ain’t no way y’all survivin’ this one
Here it comes, here it comes, the mistakes of history
Well, all for the sake of a foreign glory
It’s the season for treason and revolution”

But before I made my decision, I debated Dance With The Devil by Breaking Benjamin which could be the perfect theme song for Wolmar.

Review

Warlock’s Sun Rising picks the story up right where it was dropped in Devil’s Night Dawning. Horskram, Adelko and their companions are set out to find Andragorix and put an end to the strange happenings, while retrieving the missing stone pieces. All the while Abrexta gains even more power Braxus’ homeland and Adhelina fights against her faith with Hettie on her side. We also get a new set of POV characters besides the ones we already know: Wolmar prince of Northalde, whose mission is to caution the king of Pangonia, and the leaders of the True Temple and the Argolians of the dangers awaiting for the world. Guldebrand, who wants to unite the tribes and lands of the icy North with the help of Magnhilda. Or Hjala, princess of Northalde trying to use her influence to have her way in the current political turmoil.

Damien, as you can tell, doesn’t shy away from juggling with several POVs, keeping them all in line. Which is not an easy task. I honestly don’t know how he does it, but I think in this book even more things are happening than in the first book, so you really have to keep your eyes open if you want to follow what’s happening. One of the criticism about Devil’s Night Dawning was the pacing. With all the character and story building in place, the pace sometimes dragged and made reading it a rather tedious task. Thankfully, Warlock’s Sun Rising has no such problem whatsoever. You’d think, considering the length of the book you are bound to be bored every once in a while. But every time you think you are about to reach that point, a turn of events gets you off guard and keeps you on your toes and engaged. You might even find myself reading on despite other circumstances – I, for instance had a minor eye surgery at the time I was reading it, and was under healing, but even that couldn’t keep me away from this book. Besides, there is something in Damien’s prose that just hugs you gently like your favorite blanket and leads you gently on your path.

Having more story lines to follow definitely does some good to this book, it saves it being monotone and gives a glimpse at what happens in the other parts of the world. I like how Adelko grows as a character and questions everything, even his own religious order. The world building is still going strong, we get to know more about the world as Horskram, Adelko and the others wander from place to place. We get some magic, political games, fighting, adventure, mystery and of course romance too. Not too much, thankfully, though it was irritating how Torgun and Braxus behaved from the moment they laid eyes on Adhelina. Like teenage boys during puberty. Seriously. And they are supposed to be grown men, fighting monsters and all! Just Adhelina was more irritating, acting like she lived in a romantic fairy tale. Come on girl, get yourself together! But then, it’s well-known I’m not exactly a fan of romance, however, we have to give credit where it’s due: probably this is how romantic relationships, and love triangles worked in the medieval age. On which the whole setting is built.

Although we get to visit similar places, they can be distinguished from each other. The most memorable however, is the Earth Witch’s lair, where, once again, we meet a little furry fellow.

“‘Led by a knight-loving squirrel into the heart of a witch’s lair,’ said Braxus. ‘I’m not sure even I have the craft to put that into song.'”

Now, I’m not easily surprised, but some turn of events caught me off guard. Others were kind of predictable, but nothing can be perfect. And if we are talking about perfect, I think it would have been better if this book were released as two. It would have given time to process the end of part one and keep everyone guessing what happens next (the book still leaves us with questions to be answered so don’t worry). The impact would have been bigger, because I for one was pretty surprised by the outcome. But by the time you finish the book so much things happens that that event just doesn’t feel so significant anymore. Although it is.

As for the characters, by the end I had the feeling that they were too predictable, some bigger changes in their personality would have done some good to them. Maybe Adelko, Vaskrian, Anupe, Wolmar and Hettie were able to surprise me with their actions and thoughts (not talking about those side characters who turned out to be someone else they were supposed to be). Wolmar, although not exactly a likeable character turned out to be the most interesting one. Almost a year later and I still remember how he struggled and tried to overcome his situation at hand, dealing with a powerful and quite persuasive person. This storyline was by far my favorite.

In Warlock’s Sun Rising Damien turns the action and the magic up a notch. We get everything from battle scenes through demon wakening rituals to political scheming. If  you don’t find something you love in fantasy in this book, then you didn’t look hard enough. Warlock’s Sun Rising offers a wide selection of characters you can love or hate, from every cast be it noble or peasant, rich or poor, male or female. And that diversity which makes it so damn interesting and enjoyable. Plus the fact that it can leave your mouth hanging open with a twist you never saw coming. If you liked Devil’s Night Dawning, I would strongly recommend checking out the sequel, because it raised the bar and is even better than the first book!

 

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