Series: Archives of the Invisible Sword #3
Published by HQ Young Adult
Published on 1 December 2021
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
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Hard on the heels of trouble in Zirdai city, Shyla Sun-Kissed and Rendor are ordered to report to the King of Koraha - a summons that is deadly to ignore. The King holds the key to Koraha's existence, but a formidable new enemy threatens Koraha's very survival and the King desperately needs Shyla and Rendor's help.
Wielding a terrifying and unknown magical power that can convert opponents into devoted soldiers, the mysterious army is hellbent on usurping the crown. Shyla and Rendor are tasked with discovering who in the seven hells these insurgents are. And what their real endgame is.
Trekking through the punishing conditions across the searing surface of Koraha, and facing numerous unseen foes and untold danger, they must follow the clues to uncover the truth before it's too late. The fate of the King and all the citizens of Koraha rests in their hands...
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I feel like it’s been a while since the previous book in this series, but that’s incorrect. The previous book, The City of Zirdai, had its release date pushed back by a year because of the pandemic, but this book was released only 6 months after Book #2, which is awesome for me.
I had real problems reading this ARC – it literally killed my Kindle twice (actually three times because I wanted to be sure!) and I had to eventually download the Netgalley app on my phone to read it that way, which I did not enjoy, but I got through it.
I feel like this book had a better plot and much less repetition than the previous two books. Shyla is offered an investigation job and she willingly takes it on, as opposed to in the first book where she is forced to work to save someone’s life. The scenery changes often, which is really lovely to see as we travel between different underground cities and monasteries. It means we get to see how different cities have different cultures.
I feel like this also had some really good counters for what I was viewing in Book #2 as Shyla becoming all-powerful, which is a flaw of many of Snyder’s lead characters. Although Shyla’s magic seemed limitless and ever-growing, she did have limits on exactly what she could achieve. Unlike in Book #2, it wasn’t expanding magical powers due to strange illogical leaps in logic, or ‘thinking’ herself stronger. I felt like it was a better progression. I really loved seeing a time when even the seemingly all-powerful mind-manipulator Shyla was outperformed, and I also loved that she put limits on herself due to her own morality.
I also loved Rendor so much. I have such a weakness for reformed bad guys, but he’s such a good guy that I forget he used to be a bad guy! I also love big burly guys as well, so I’m especially weak for him. I love so much that he and Shyla have an incredibly healthy sex life. It’s really beautiful and wonderful to see (or not see, because this isn’t erotica lol). What I especially love about Rendor is his love and trust in Shyla. I love so much that you clearly see when he is hurt or bothered by Shyla’s actions, but she asks him to trust her, and he immediately accepts it and knows she will explain later. It happens several times in the novel and I just love it so much. They have such excellent communication with each other and I JUST LOVE THEM OKAY??
I loved how the villain’s motivation was actually completely noble. I can’t really fault the villain for what they are trying to achieve, only their methods. And even then, their argument is persuasive as hell. It’s kind of like Thanatos on the Avengers movies. He’s trying to save the galaxy from overpopulation, which I actually understand because finite resources, and he genuinely thinks the way he is going about it is the best way. Yeah, I understand KOK’s villain’s actions. I think that makes the motivation really realistic and understandable.
The only thing that didn’t totally enchant me about this book was the interchangeability of the minor characters. I really had no memory of any of the Invisible Swords from Book #2 outside of Shyla, Rendor, and Mojag. I even had to be reminded that Gurice and Shyla were BFF. Mojag is the only interesting one, and that’s only because he’s a kid. Everyone else is interchangeable, their names and faces blur, and I don’t really care about any of them. I cared far more about the characters that were introduced in this book, like the king.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and I think it’s probably my favourite out of the trilogy. I will definitely be re-reading it at some point because Maria Snyder is just the best, and so is Rendor.