The Ruthless by Peter Newman

The Ruthless book cover
Rating 8.8/10
A fantastic sequel of epic proportions.

The Ruthless is a fantastic sequel of epic proportions that promises to delight readers of the first book with its macabre and twisted nature.

Sixteen years have passed, and political scheming still reigns supreme. Escaping death should be enough for these immortals but they only want more: they wish to dominate each other entirely. As such, High Lords resort to tricks and power displays to keep the other Deathless is check, along with petty politics to ensure their house remains strong and everlasting. They weaken themselves when they should be focusing on what is the real threat to their existence, but they are blind to the nature of what lurks in the wilds bellow their floating castles.

To them it is inherent evil, mindless evil that only seeks to destroy and conquer. But as the years have passed that evil has adapted and grown clever; it has started using tactics to lure hunters out into the open and to strike the mighty Deathless themselves. The Lords are too busy fighting with each other to realise what has grown beneath them, and it could threaten to destroy them entirely if they don’t get their act together. Vasin Sapphire seeks to tackle them, but even his actions aren’t entirely altruistic; he only wishes to curry favour with the minor houses so he could become the next High Lord of House Sapphire. Regardless the creatures of the wild are now organised and are testing the waters, prodding the defences of the deathless in order to find a weak spot so they can hit it with a debilitating blow. Bad things are coming.

Lord Rochant is by far the most enigmatic and complex character within the series. He has a shaded past and his own secret motives that are totally separate to the other Deathless. He works in plain sight to bring about his own desires, and very few even suspect him because of his stalwart reputation as the protector of House Sapphire. Nobody really knows what he is up to, and there will be some interesting things coming because of his actions. And I’m looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. The reveals in here about his relationship with the wild complicate things entirely.

Newman is a very careful and subtle writer. He takes his time, weaving intricate layers and complexities into his story telling. He did this brilliantly in The Vagrant Trilogy. The way he can get such depth into his characters is by far the sharpest tool of his arsenal. Nothing is quite as simple as it seems. Simple divides like good and evil are all a matter of perspective, a thin layer that is totally breakable. And I love this element of the writing because it totally leaves the plot open for expansion because it could go anywhere. I suspect there may be a complete reversal coming.

The benchmark was set rather high with The Deathless and it has certainly been matched in book two. I’m excited to see how this will all develop.

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