I’m not usually one for prequels — if the author/filmmakers have done their job, we know what we need to know already. Sure, it allows the creator to fill in some blanks, make the in-joke — but on the whole, they just seem to serve as red meat for fans*, while offering little new.
But a well-done prequel can be a lot of fun — and in the end, if you’re not reading genre fiction for fun — what’s the point?
Between the rest of the books in this criminally-underselling series, we’re given a decent idea what happened between Ray and Annalise before Child of Fire, how Ray got his Knife (one of the coolest tools I can remember reading about), and about Wally getting Ray into this mess. So, I put off reading this one longer than I’d intended to. Glad I finally got around to it — this was a blast.
Ray Lilly is a messed up, broken, not-so-good guy trying to live straight — to become a “seat belt person,” as he puts it. He’s fresh from prison, but he knows he hasn’t finished paying his debt to society (his policeman uncle helps drive this home) and really wants to get on with his new life.
Naturally, his old life — particularly his old friends, are there to drag him off his new path. But this isn’t your garden-variety recidivism at work. There’s some otherworldly magic using his friends — and almost everyone around him — for ends that even a guy of Ray’s questionable morality can’t abide.
The new reality that Ray steps into here is unlike anything you’ve seen before — dark, scary, amoral, and uncaring — a lot like our world seems too often. The magic system that Connolly has created in this series is something special — I so, so wish we’d gotten to see more of it following Circle of Enemies.
This was fun, very satisfying — and most of all, it made me want to re-read the rest of the books, I’d forgotten just how addicting these books were.
If you’ve read the Twenty Palaces series, this is a nice little cherry on top — if you haven’t? Skip this for now, and run to your indie bookstore (or internet retailer, I guess) and grab them.
* Not that I’m against red meat for fans — as a fan of many things, including red meat, I like when creators entertain me.