Brothers Valyn and Kaden have been reunited and have now gone again in their separate ways. Kaden has gone with Triste and his teacher from the monastery Rampuri Tan through one of the gates created by the emotionless creatures known as Csestriim, and travel to the stronghold of an order of monks much more brutal in their ways than those . There Triste and Kaden team with a long time prisoner of the Ishien, Kiel, and escape, making there way to the capital of Annur. Valyn and his team of soldiers is captured by a nomadic people that have banded together in order to strike the Annurian empire. As Kaden enters the city, Adare leaves it after learning the identity of her father’s murderer. She goes in search of an army to follow her and defeat the man that killed her father. As the plot marches forward, the siblings all begin to question if avenging their father’s death and regaining control of their shattered empire is really the most important thing, or if there is truly more at stake.

Staveley continues his series “The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne” in this novel. The review of the first book stated that Staveley’s world building is fantastic, and that continues to be the case in this novel as well. The world continues to deepen, the reader learns more about Annur and even gains knowledge about people living outside of the empire. We, as readers, also begin to see some serious character change and development through this book, most especially in Adare. She begins as a pampered princess, not knowing anything about life outside the palace walls, and by the end we see a tougher woman, one able to stand on her own. As in the last book there are quite graphic depictions of violence as well as explicit language. The violence is becoming more prominent as the threat of war draws closer. However, it still isn’t overwhelming, and the beautiful writing and plot takes your mind away from the violence.