Today I am continuing my reread and review of the Godblind Trilogy as part of #WyrdandWonder. Today I am looking at Darksoul – the second book and possibly my favourite of the entire trilogy. The review for the third book – Bloodchild – will be up tomorrow.
The Wolves lie dead beside Rilpor’s soldiers, slaughtered at the hands of the Mireces and their fanatical army.
The veil that once kept the Red Gods at bay has been left in tatters as the Dark Lady’s plans for the world come to fruition. Where the gods walk, blood is spilled on the earth.
All that stands between the Mireces army and complete control of the Kingdom of Rilpor are the walls of its capital, Rilporin, and those besieged inside.
But hope might yet bloom in the unlikeliest of places: in the heart of a former slave, in the mind of a soldier with the eyes of a fox, and in the hands of a general destined to be king.
This book destroyed me the first time I read it.
To be fair, it still destroys me. Often when there is a trilogy, the second book is the *ignored* middle child, not necessarily bad, but weaker than the start and conclusion, that is not the case here. While I adore the entire trilogy, and each book has its moments that stand out as my favourites, if I had to choose a favourite book, it would be Darksoul.
Darksoul takes up from the devastating end of the first book and plunges further into the darkness, the blood and grim reality of a country at war. But, as with the other books, this book is so much more. It very much continues with the ideas of ‘hope’ in the darkest times. Even when there are many moments in this book when it feels like everything is over and lost, there is always that glimmer. It drives the characters to keep fighting, to push through loss and grief. It builds on the fantastic characterisation, so that you can’t help but care for every one of those characters, because you want them to have that hope, to survive, and it heightens the tension of each fight, each failure, especially as no one is safe in this world.
Godblind proved that fact, Darksoul drives that point home to the hilt.
A large part of Darksoul is focused on the siege of Rilporin, and the level of worldbuilding and research into making this not only grimly realistic but fascinating to read and without losing the pace established in the first book is breath-taking. Something this detailed has the potential to become too much, but not here, the action of the fight scenes – from larger-scale assaults to smaller groups, and even one on one – is visceral, chaotic and oh so real. It breaks up the more logistical aspects of the siege – shoring up defences, supplies, tactics – which only added to the realism, and made the plight of the soldiers and civilians on both sides all the more real and desperate. And all of this was the backdrop to the human stories amongst this chaos and destruction – of friends and lovers at risk of losing one another, families are torn apart, an entire people on the brink of being overrun. At no point does the story lose sight of the human cost of what is happening, the personal cost or the fact that even in war, betrayal and political intrigue continues.
As someone who is an unabashed fan of Crys and Ash, this book hurt on so many levels and made me love them even more. The characters that were so well established in the first book continue to develop and grow throughout Darksoul, rising to the situation they find themselves in various ways, and it is an excellent exploration of what people will do for hope and when pushed to the edge.
The finale of this book was crushing in the best possible way, for all sides. And it was hard not to feel for both sides during the events at the end which has always been a strength of these books. Even those on the Dark Path are human and understandable. Darksoul leaves you hurting, and desperately needing more.
Darksoul (Godblind #2) – Anna Stephens (Published by Harper Voyager 2018) – ***** (5/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book as I cannot talk about it enough and will happily cry about Darksoul any day.