‘Zihaen’ is the second in ‘The Shadow of the Revenaunt’ series by Paul E. Horsman. In this book the author seems to have found his stride in the same way that his central character Ghyll has, and I hadn’t read very far before I realised that, unlike book one to which I gave four stars, this was a five star book.
There is a surety and a confidence in the writing and the world building is excellent. I truly felt as if these characters and this world existed somewhere beyond the author’s imagination. The plot is much less predictable than book one and even has some surprises, and the addition of a mystery character adds another dimension. The balance of characterisation and action is perfect, and the characters are all developing as they should.
The only thing that didn’t quite work for me is the speed with which Ghyll finds a wife and falls in love, and the book lost half a star because of it. By having no story around how they get together and no time to develop the relationship before the young king declares his love, the author not only makes Ghyll out to be somewhat shallow—something that seems at odds with the rest of his actions—but he also completely misses the potential for the kind of romantic element that would enrich the book further.
Even so, this is the best kind of fantasy, one where a touch of humour balances the heaviness of the dark forces, so all is not doom and gloom. Our young king and his companions have dark foes, but they also have skill, discipline, intelligence, and military support on their side.
I am not going to say anything specific about the story, just that if you enjoyed book one in this series, then I recommend that you read on. It’s an excellent traditional fantasy and well worth a read. 4.5 stars.