*Book source ~ A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Newly minted Knight of the Crane, Rowen Locke has fulfilled his dream of becoming a Knight of the Lotus Isles even if the way he came about it was unorthodox. Wielding Knightswrath, the legendary sword of Fâyu Jinn, there are those who would take it away from him even though it was given to him in good faith. In order to protect the relic and help stop the war machine rolling across the lands he, Jalist and Silwren travel to the Wytchforest in attempt to garner allies. But in war-strewn Ruun the way is perilous even for the heroes of Lyos. Nothing is as it seems and there is an unknown sinister force hiding in the shadows, pushing chess pieces around the board, waiting for the right moment to strike and conquer all that Rowen holds dear. Unfortunately, Rowen discovers this knowledge too late to prevent mass destruction, death and personal loss. Can one man, a humble lowly Knight, save an entire world when he’s not even sure he can save himself?
This epic fantasy has so much going on that it’s hard to sum it up without giving things away. Told from multiple POVs, each person brings a piece of the puzzle to the table. Everyone has a plan and they don’t all mesh, even the ones who think they do may end up being taken by surprise and betrayed. Or maybe not. Sneakiness and hidden agendas abound and the end game is in sight. The villains are numerous and allies are besieged. The land is overrun and the safe places are shrinking. Death and despair are everywhere. And yet, there are those who still fight. Still defend. Even when it seems hopeless.
The writing is superb and this novel is populated with a wide variety of interesting characters and many different factions coming together in this war. Rowen is an excellent hero. He has his flaws, but he’s always trying to do the right thing. Not because it will garner him accolades, but because his moral compass dictates so to him. That moral compass gets him into a lot of trouble, but, with the help of his friends and sometimes from unexpected quarters, he somehow manages to persevere. And Holy Shit! That ending? Wow. Of the several possible scenarios I did not expect that particular one. I now have a song stuck in my head, Where Do We Go From Here? from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Once More, With Feeling. I have no idea how the final leg of this story is going to play out and I can’t wait to find out.