Carter's sequel to `The Language of Stones' is as stunning as his first. From the eccentrically brilliant quarter turn of the British Isles map to the continuous warping of actual history and names this is one intellectually startling alternative history fantasy novel.
The sequel takes place two years after Willand's apparent destruction of the Doomstone at the Sightless One's monastery. He has retreated to his personal shire where a glee has hidden the village from prying eyes and blessed its people. Having married Willow and bringing up a daughter Bethe, Will finds himself calling on Gwydion one night when he sees a strange light in the sky coming from the village of Little Slaughter. Their resultant investigation and Gywdion's confession that Maskull has returned from enforced exile encourages Will to grow in stature as an assuming and protesting wizard as both he, Gwydion and the new character of Morann spend some time trying to ascertain the depths of Maskull's latest intrigues. Will is now an acknowledged lign and battlestone scryer and his maturity is reflected in the fact he is able to progress matters on his own and now dares to openly question Gwydion whose status as omniscient takes a severe battering in this second novel.
The plot of the sequel steps things up a notch as several battlestones seek to draw the warring factions of the weakly King Hal and his ghastly queen who are driven by the malice of Maskull to hunt down Richard, Duke of Ebor and strip him of all he owns. We are privileged to see one battlestone wreak its havoc on the field of war, another ensnares Will as he fights it in an icy lake, another manipulates him at the climatic battle. In the midst of it all he befriends a ked, discovers his twin brother is the Dark Child, spends much time in disguise as the Maceugh and grows an ever more powerful wizard whilst still not understanding his destiny.
Carter spent much of the first novel creating this superb alternative Britain, aptly showing how word of mouth tellings can subtly warp stories as they are handed down. In this second he delivers an improved story telling performance. The plots are entirely crisp, the characterisation effortless and fifteenth century England lingers in the senses throughout the entire novel as it delivers punch after punch, maturing as his main character does. A simply stunning series is in the making here and you would be well advised to read it.
Review by travelswithacanadian
8.9/10 from 1 reviews
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