To the Shadows, say:
"we were old when you were young,"
"dark on the waters."
Somehow my review of the second one fell through the cracks-- I was terrible about this last year, which is why I resolved to do at least a short, slapdash, lackluster blurb for everything this time-- but if you recall from my review of the first one, I like this series, Henry likes this series, everyone likes this series! I hardly need to gush about it. My favorite thing about it is that it is, you know, Russian. Not Eastern European, but Eurasia. Ravka shares a Sino-Russo border with Shu Han, & Bardugo uses this to paint a more nuanced pastiche, whose diversity-- both in population & in mythic background-- deepen the story. The tortured love triangle-- of course there's a tortured love triangle-- didn't grate on my nerves at all. I think because the problem I have with most tension like that is a failure to communicate; I hate problems that could be solved by a conversation. This isn't that; the web of feelings & temptations & obligations is out there. Everyone involved know all the pros & cons; the story is about how those dice actually will shake out. We get just enough more Darkling; enough to make him manifest & present in the story, enough to flesh him out more, to really embody him...but not enough to spoil it, not enough to make you go "okay, listen, the dude is basically Magneto Stalin, he's not an okay guy, I've had enough of the humanizing him already, jeez." I know what I would have tweaked, my little "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"-style wink to the camera, but that's the sign of a good story, to me-- if I get inside of it & want to start tinkering with the engine.