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Title: Dragonfly Falling
Series: Shadows of the Apt #2
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
The Empire defeats a supposedly unbeatable Ant City with new weapons and we are introduced to the Head Artificer of the Empire. A half breed named Drephos. He takes Totho under his wing and Totho ends up throwing his lot in with the Empire so that he can make what he wants and take the respect he feels he deserves.
The Empire makes an alliance with another Ant City that has a grudge against Collegium. With the city of Tark out of the way, the Vekken can take Collegium. Stenwold must muster the forces of Collegium to throw back this attack.
Cheerwell is captured and escapes. Salma is captured, escapes and begins a guerilla war against the Empire. Tisamon and Tynisia go to the last surviving Mantis stronghold so that Tynisia can earn her Master Swordsman badge.
We are introduced to the Wasp Emperor; a young, insecure man who ends up with a Mosquito kinden as counselor. This Mosquito promises him eternal life if he can get ahold of a certain object of power. A disparate group is sent to Collegium to recover this box and ends with one of the group going off on their own to sell the box to the highest bidder.
Fighting, fighting, fighting!
I powered through this. It is just one massive battle scene after another. You get a reprieve, just long enough to catch your breath, before Tchaikovsky throws you head first into another fight. I read the second 50% of the book in one afternoon and I almost felt like gasping when I was done, the battles were so palpable.
We also learn that Magic isn’t quite so gone as many of the Apt kinden would like to believe. As long as there are InApt kinden, magic will continue to exist. So far, all the magic I’ve seen is pretty bad stuff. Taking fears, darkness, rage, hatred and a lust for power and turning them into usable power. There is no Gandalf the Grey kicking around this land. Magic was used for subjugation and that was why the Apt kinden overthrew their masters hundreds of years ago and claimed the land.
The politics of the Empire begins to take a big part of the book as well. It is not nearly as monolithic as presented in the first book. There are political factions as well as Security factions and the Empire has truly gotten big enough that people are beginning to think of taking some of that power for themselves. It makes the Rekef [the Security people of the Empire] a much more scary thing, as we see it begin to fracture and be used for personal power instead of being an Idea.
I am also realizing, on this re-read, that there is no Super Group to win a few battles and turn the tide. This is a battle for survival and very few characters are guaranteed that. Achaeos apparently dies as do boatloads of side characters. Stenwold Makers corp of spies keep getting wiped out and it is brutal to watch. This might be a fantasy series, but it really does show the ugly side of war.
This was just as good a read as the first time back in ’10. It just was a bit darker for me.