The second book of the Casting Trilogy draws us deeper in the world of the Eleven Domains and its mysterious magic. Gods that are whispers in the mind, demons of the deep, spirits of Earth, Wind, and Fire (no pun intended). It follows the adventures of Bramble, Ash, and Saker, and adds the perspectives of Martine and Leof as they each (both knowingly and unknowingly) fight against the plague of vengeful revenants that threaten the land. Freeman’s world is pretty standard Medieval fantasy fare, with a warlord/serf system set in place and magic at the fringes. What makes it interesting is that Freeman tells her tale from lower caste/class and outsiders, and with a decidedly feminist perspective that’s refreshing in the “grimdark” fantasy genre. Imagine a George R.R. Martin novel written by Ursula LeGuin, for a reference point. Her prose sings and her characters are complex, and the first person narratives from minor characters make her fantasy world become more grounded. The larger allegory—the mistreatment of an ethnic minority in a colonialist society—is deliciously complicated and problematized. There were times the narrative dragged, but the last 50 pages go by at a fast clip. I look forward to seeing how Freeman ends her saga.
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