The sequel to the award-nominated Heir to the North is here, and the story of Malessar's Curse is complete!
"With the publication of The High King's Vengeance, readers who have yet to begin the series have the whole thing available to them now, and can read straight through from the beginning. I envy them the experience." - Teresa Edgerton, author of Goblin Moon and Hobgoblin Night
"I am the Heir to the North."
Malessar's Curse is broken, the wards around Caenthell destroyed. The Warlock himself lies, exhausted and gravely wounded, in the rubble of his own house. And while the dire spirits trapped behind the wards for centuries are unleashed into the world once more, Cassia is confined to a cell deep in Galliarca's grand palace.
Yet Caenthell calls to her, and Cassia must answer. As Heir to the North, the throne and the power behind it belong to her. But the twisted hunger of Caenthell's spirits appalls her. and Cassia vows to do everything she can to defeat them.
Now, Cassia must convince both Galliarca and Hellea that they have to stand against the resurrected High King of Caenthell. She must raise an army from nothing, make uncertain alliances with princes and dragons, and fight her way into the heart of the North. And, if she is lucky, someone may live to tell her tale.
I was given this free review copy audio book at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
Going into this book, I had no idea this was the 2nd book in a series. For some reason, Audible doesn't list these books (The Heir to the North and The High King's Vengeance) as a series. That being said, I was a little lost at first. I wasn't sure what was going on and why. The author does an OK job on referencing things from the first book that I eventually figured things out and was able to enjoy the book more fully. The narration was pretty good and the story, once I understood what was going on, was really well done. In summary, you should probably start with The Heir to the North first, but if you pay attention, you can also do alright with this book alone. I wouldn't go back for the first book after listening to this one, though, because I now know how the series ends.
I really enjoyed the first book of this series, and this is an excellent follow up. Like many fantasy series, it just gets better once you know the world and are invested in the characters. I wish I could give it four and a half stars.
The main character in particular has a fantastic arc, and unlike many series I have read, she doesn't stop learning and improving at the beginning of the first book, but continues throughout. It seems like the author did a lot of thinking about how he wants his characters to develop and has spaced it throughout the books, augmenting the epic experience and general sense of reality. One of my favorite elements of the story was a certain dark undercurrent that flows throughout and really heightens the suspense and the mood. It was really well done.
The world itself is incredibly rich and detailed. My one criticism would be that the speech is anachronistic, sometimes using idioms or even contemporary slag which feels out of place with the rest of the story tone. I did clench my teeth a few times over this. I liked the story so much that it was worth that minor irritation, however, if not for that I probably would have given it five stars overall.
The narration was very nice.
I received this book for free at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
Narrator did an excellent vocal change for each character, regardless of their age or gender!
Good storyline, though sometimes easy to lose, if readers are not focused on listening
Recommended for 17 yrs or older
This audiobook was given to me for free to rate, and I freely give my opinion
“The High King's Vengeance”, is the second and last book in Steven Poore’s Heir to the North series. Both books in the series received a four-star rating from me, and this is one of the books I felt may even be closer to five stars; a coveted rating from me. You can find my review of the first book also posted on this site if you are interested. For those who enjoy deep, immersive and expansive fantasy books, I think you will find this book one you will want to pick up. Unlike many others in the genre, this book has a strong and ever maturing female main character. It is really a two-part coming of age story of a young woman who was the daughter of a story teller later to discover that she is the heir to the norther kingdom. Like the first book, this one also is quite large at 470 pages in digital format and 17.5 hours in audiobook format. The audiobook was well narrated by Dana Croft who also narrated the first in the series. I’m one who enjoys consistency with series narration.
One of the phrases that resonated with me in this book was when the main character said something to the affect that she was no longer the storyteller, but now the story itself. Throughout her journey, she knew that generations of people would retell and hear of her actions and outcomes. Very powerful and profound and I liked that the author pointed me back to the characters roots of storytelling. I liked how one could see the growth of the main character as she became aware of things herself. At times it was quite moving and at others time you felt the awkwardness she felt. One of my criticisms would be the use of profanity and some of the dialogue felt too native to our time than I would suspect used in a fantasy world. Finding or using made up words for expletives would have been preferred and felt more to character than modern slang.
I quite enjoyed the constant feeling and reference to the unknown powerful evil force that taunts our heroine from the first page of the book to its last. It seemed more like an impossible mission like those who set out in the Lord of the Rings series to destroy the ring. They had to overcome so much disbelief, magic and forces that it seemed impossible and so do our characters. As one would expect from books in this genre, this one also had magic, fighters, rogues, wizards, and of course dragons. Not only do we have many of the same characters from the first book continuing with our main character, but we are introduced to a number of new ones as well. If asked, I would describe this book as a complex but epic coming of age adventure. Not only do we have a number of sword and sorcery use, but we are also introduced to an army of stone solders. Much of the second book the about not only growing an army to defeat the foe, but also the growth of our main character as well. The author did a good job of balancing these aspects. There was also a feeling of doom and gloom overhanging our cast of characters as they pressed forward on their journey.
Turning to the audiobook’s narration, Dana Croft did an exceptional job with this rather long book. I do not recall any issues with the audio itself nor her narration. She was able to voice the many characters quite well and did a good job adding inflection where needed. For me, her European accent made the book more enjoyable and believable. It was also nice having a female narrate this book as the main character is a woman. On an unrelated note, I want to say that I also liked the cover art for the audiobook as it gave me a visual of our two main characters. Good job.
For parents and younger readers, this book contains a few uses of profanity. There are also a few places where crude and sexual content is discussed. The sexual aspects are more for scenes of romance than simply for shock value, but they are still present. A few scenes of graphic violence may be inappropriate for younger audiences; but nothing unexpected from a fantasy book.
In summary, I would recommend this book to someone that enjoys deeper and more traditional fantasy books. There are enough unique aspects setting it apart from the standard fantasy genre; which is a good thing. Make sure you reserve time to listen to this book as it is not one of those you can follow while half listening. If you have picked up and listed to the first book, grabbing the second to complete the series is not a question.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.
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Having read the first book, which I thought was ok but not great, I hadn't planned to read part two, but as I had a free copy and the weather has been poor, I settled down to listen. I'm really glad I did.
As many of the main characters had already been introduced, there was little scene setting to be done so the action was launched straight into without any ado and the pace kept going to the end.
Cassia continued to grow into her unexpected role as the heir of the north, changing from a young storytellers daughter, to a fearless warrior woman with a clear insight into what she must do to achieve her goal. As she did so, Cassia stayed true to her morals and values and was not afraid to speak her mind to...well, men, who all too often dreamed of power & glory and thought to align themselves with Cassia to achieve their own, less honourable aims.
This is a well crafted story, told in a style that keeps the listener involved and wondering where it will all end. The narrator is superb. The majority of the book's characters are male, the narrator skilfully portrays their range of ages, accents etc very impressively and lends the book the tension it deserves. This is what keeps one listening long after lights out.