A fun fantasy romp with great pacing
Ioth, City of Lights is the sequel to Kingshold. It picks up not long after the ending of Kingshold and follows the same characters as the action and conflict expands to the world stage. It is in every way a worthy sequel that improves in many areas while keeping much of what folks loved about that first book. If you enjoyed Kingshold you’re sure to enjoy Ioth even more!
One of my major complaints about Kingshold was that it took a very long time for the various viewpoint characters to come together and for the action to start moving at a decent clip. In Ioth that issue is completely gone. The action picks up almost immediately and doesn’t let up. One of the things Woolliscroft has significantly improved is the pacing. It was difficult for me to find spots where I felt like putting the book down to do import things like sleep. The plot contains plenty of mysteries and reveals and is great fun to follow. The perfection of the pacing helps with this, culminating in an action-packed finale that both keeps you on the edge of your seat and packs an emotional punch. That emotional punch in and of itself is another area worth praising. For me, the emotional beats throughout the novel hit well. Woolliscroft has done an excellent job of elevating this aspect of his writing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the way that Woolliscroft went to great lengths to show the antagonists, particularly the common people of Pyrfew, as real people with families and lives and concerns and joys. These are people who believe they are doing good. At the same time, in the climax, he doesn’t hold back from allowing the antagonists to take actions that manifest a visceral hatred for them. Wrapped up in all of this is the very authentic struggle of how difficult it is for the protagonists to bring about the change they hoped for in the first book. All of these elements combine to produce a fun and enjoyable read that will appeal to fans of the first book and ought to make others consider jumping into the series.
My main criticisms of Ioth are similar to the criticisms I had for Kingshold. The largest of these is that at times the narration and dialog are mildly anachronistic or feel out of place in the sort of world Woolliscroft has crafted. The best way I know to explain this is that the narrative and dialog feel similar to the BBC’s Merlin series. That isn’t a bad comparison. I enjoyed the Merlin series quite a bit, but while that sort of tongue-in-cheek, wink-nudge, anachronistic dialog works for me in the TV medium it ends up jarring me out of the story regularly in a novel. This contributed to the other main weakness of the novel for me, that the characters sometimes didn’t connect with me. I enjoyed them, but didn’t feel a deep connection, though I did connect with the important emotional beats in the story. At the end of the day, both criticisms are primarily down to preference.
Ioth, City of Lights is a fun fantasy romp with great pacing. The twists and turns of the plot are wonderful, even painful at times, but this all combines to make a story that is both stirring and engaging. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and discovering where Woolliscroft takes us next.
Review by Calvin Park
7.8/10 from 1 reviews
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