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Five years after abandoning the Sagrada Acedemy (Lord of the White Hell universe), Elezar Grunito has become infamous in the sanctified circles of noble dueling rings for his brutal temper and lethal blade. Men and women of all ranks gather to cheer and jeer, none of them knowing Elezar’s true purpose. But a violent death outside the ring marks Elezar as a wanted man and sends him into hiding in the far northern wilds of Labara.
There, creatures of myth and witchcraft—long since driven from Cadeleon—lurk in dark woods and prowl the winding streets. Soldiers and priests alike fear the return of witch-queens and even demons. Elezar soon learns that magic takes many forms, some too alluring to resist, others too terrible to endure. But just as he begins to find his place in this strange new country, the past he left behind along with his school days returns to challenge him once again.
Book 2 continues after the climatic events of the first book, bringing focus to the story from demons to the approaching armies of the Witch Queens. There’s not much new material I can add to this review: if you liked the predecessor, more likely you will like this sequel. There is less world building with this entry since almost everything you needed to know about the world has already been crafted. For this reason, the pacing of the story was a little on the uptake as there’s less info-dumping.
The book itself could be split into two parts: the first-half dealing with human politics. In the wake of destruction caused by the events of book 1, there needs to be a new leader. And with that, there’s going to be a bunch of political mess involved. Not being a fan of such, I would say the first half of the book wasn’t my favorite. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t boring. There were certainly other things going on, but it just wasn’t something that caught my interest when I know so much other (fantasy-esque) things could be happening.
The second half of the book was what I was waiting for: magic, violence, myths, and pretty much everything that makes Ginn Hale a master of fantasy storytelling. Certainly, the pacing wasn’t an issue at this point.
It was nice to see the author bring in characters from Lord of the White Hell series, as not just brief glimpses, but characters that stay important to the conclusion to the plot. They were relevant, and while the POV is strictly between Elezar and Skellan, I was able to see enough of Javier and Kiram to feel myself satisfied.
The romance between Elezar and Skellan progressed steadily throughout the book. I’m glad the author didn’t make Elezar’s feelings for Skellan become the magic wand to the inner homophobia he has, or at least its implication to his life back in Cadeleon. While things were slow to progress in the grand scheme of things (i.e. throughout two very long books), it certainly reached a satisfying and realistic conclusion.
One thing that did surprise me was the amount of proofreading errors throughout the book. Granted, it wouldn’t be a deterrant to reading this sequel (especially if you loved book 1), but it wasn’t something I expected from this author. The book could certainly shine with a second run through for mistakes as there were often sentences that I had to reread (slowly) to make sense.
Overall, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this brilliant world hasn’t come to a permanent end. When I started on this journey, I didn’t think I would like Elezar. I wanted Javier and Kiram back! I didn’t expect to actually fall for the brute of a giant and to be able to revisit old beloved characters. It was like I was able to have my cake and eat it too! So I definitely give a thumbs up to Ginn Hale for the great hours I was able to lose myself in with this world. Sure, it was a bit rough to read due to the proofreading mistakes, but it was still a great adventure worth taking.
Title: Champion of the Scarlet Wolf, Book 2
Author: Ginn Hale
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Release Date: December 31, 2014
Purchase Links: Blind Eye Books