We Lie With Death by Devin Madson

Series: The Reborn Empire #2 Rating: 5/5
Date of Publishing: March 28th 2019 Genre: fantasy, epic fantasy
Publisher: self-published Available: Amazon
Number of pages: 512 Author’s website: http://www.devinmadson.com

Quote of the Book

“Alive one moment, dead the next, the weight of each individual soul upon the world as fleeting as a daylight sparrow.”

Blurb

Into Kisia’s conquered north, a Levanti empire is born.

Loyal to the new emperor, Dishiva e’Jaroven must tread the line between building a new life and clinging to the old. Only Gideon can lead them, but when he allies himself with a man returned from the dead it will challenge all she thinks she knows and everything she wants to believe.

Now empress of nothing, Miko is more determined than ever to fight for her people, yet with her hunt for allies increasingly desperate, she may learn too late that power lies not in names but in people.

Rah refused to bow to the Levanti emperor, but now abandoned by the Second Swords he must choose whether to fight for his people, or his soul. Will honour be his salvation, or lead to his destruction?

Sold to the Witchdoctor, Cassandra’s only chance of freedom is in his hands, but when her fate becomes inextricably linked to Empress Hana, her true nature could condemn them both.

There is no calm after the storm.

Personal notes

Thanks to Devin Madson I’ve got an ARC copy and I couldn’t have been happier to get my hands on it. I really liked the first book, We Ride the Storm, which later had become one of the SPFBO4 finalists.

Song of the Book

I went with a Skillet song for We Ride the Storm so decided to stick with that. This time around I picked Hero with Miko and Rah in mind.

Review

Events pick up right after they were left off at the end of We Ride the Storm. Miko is forced to fled and find allies to get back Kisia’s throne with her faithful General on her side. Rah leaves the forming Levanti Empire behind after refusing to bow down to Gideon, trying to figure out where he should go. Cassandra finally meets the Witchdoctor, but not exactly the way she planned. Actually, nothing happens the way she planned. In We Lie With Death a fourth POV character joins to the others: Dishiva e’Jaroen, who decides to stay with Gideon and help him build the Levanti Empire and keep him safe, even from himself if needed.

I usually give a little summary about the plot, but this time I’m trying to avoid it, as this is a book you have to discover for yourself. There are so many layers to We Lie With Death that it’s hard to talk about them all without some accidental spoilers. But I’ll try anyway. One of the strenghts of Madson‘s book is her characters. We Lie With Death is purely character driven an hoo boy, it’s hard not to root at least for one of them.

My favorite remains to be Cassandra, whose person is surrounded by mystery. Rest assured, we’ll get a few answers and a bit of explaination of how reincarnation of a soul works for example, or why does Cassandra has a company in Her. And hers is the honour to reveal one big twist which will leave your jaw hang open. Seriously, I did not see that coming and it also makes Dishiva’s troubles muuuuch more interesting. Not that they weren’t to begin with. But back to Cassandra for a minute. Like it or not her fate is entwined with Empress Hana’s and they have to work together in order to have a chance of survival. One of my favorite parts of this plotline was the house they are delivered to by the Witchdoctor. It has a huge tree in the middle of it and the way Madson described it, makes me want to live in it – after some rebuilding and cleaning, that is. I sometimes found a bit hard to follow the explanations about the souls and I still not entirely sure I understand how Cassandra’s “problem” works, but at least good old Cassandra was her usual self fighting, not giving up when she wants something and not hiding her opinion.

Dishiva. I already liked her in We Ride the Storm, and I was really happy to see her getting her own chapters. As one of Gideon trusted people, her job is to take care of the safety of Gideon, as the head of the guard. There is a certain someone who despite Dishiva’s warning gets close to Gideon while he tries to make his dream of a free Levanti Empire come true. He is so occupied with his plans and ambitions, that doesn’t heeds Dishiva’s warnings. Instead, after several “incidents” happening around her, Gideon sends her to deal with a camp of deserters as well as Koi – which a Kisian army led by Jie – or as Emperor Kin the second as he is called now – and his grandfather, Odayama. But what she doesn’t see coming is that she’ll start questioning her own loyalty and find herself conflicted when she steps into that camp. My favorite part about her plotline was the way the mystery slowly unfurled around her, made me think I was reading a crime novel – the better kind might I add. It’s amazing, how Madson can wave so many tropes and genres into one novel.

Rah finds himself in a position where he is forced to make an unusual allie and accept some hard truths about himself and the expectations some of the Levanti sets for him. The question is, what does Rah want? Still live in exile, go home or fight against Gideon and his dreams of an Empire? Just a quoute which gives back Rah’s personality:

“In darkness you cease to exist as solitude wears your soul to a stub, but nothing could erode the truth in my heart.”

Miko was my least favorite character in We Ride the Storm, but she started to grow on me this time around. She is no longer the spoiled princess who tries to play the adult’s game. Now she has to find her own way to claim her throne and find allies to fight against the Levanti. What she didn’t expect is that she has to fight for the support of her own people and find a way to make a deal with Jie.

One of my favorite things about We Lie With Death is the way the cultures collide with each other. Levanti and Kisian are forced to get closer to each other and learn about the other’s custom, sometimes adapting to them. It’s interesting to see how people can understand furthermore form a bond between each other without speaking a common language. It’s interesting to experience how one’s opinion about a character changes when seeing them through a different character’s eyes than before.

If I liked We Ride the Storm, I’m sure as hell loved We Lie With Death. All the POV characters have their distinct voices and you can’t help but turn the pages in your need to learn what happens next. This is that kind of book which makes you promise yourself you’ll only read one more chapter. Let me spare you to lie to yourself: you won’t be able to stop. Every chapter ends in mini climax urging you to read on. By the end you won’t be able to contain your feelings and probably will curse Devin Madson by leaving you hanging, waiting for the next book like a drug addict waits for the next shot. We Lie With Death is cleverly written, intricate and addictive, merging genres like it’s the most natural thing in the world, while handling topics with a sensitivity that shows Madson‘s genius. If you didn’t read We Ride the Storm yet, start it now, because you don’t want to miss We Lie With Death!

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