Danil and Hafryn are back! If you liked Messenger, then you’ll like Visioner as well as they are very similar books. Danil is still a fish out of water, Hafryn is still his devoted lover and protector, and they still don’t know who they can really trust.
After winning the battle at the end of Messenger to save the deadlands from Roldaerian magi and the evil Kaul, Danil is now its custodian. It’s a position that chooses the person, not the other way around. Under his care, the once lifeless area is flourishing with greenery and, more importantly, leylines and kiandrite crystals that speak to him. Danil has just found his first proper kiandrite crystal (instead of the flecks that the magi have been stealing for decades to use in their magic spells) when he is surprised by a Roldaerian emissary and her guards. They wish to be taken to the High Council of Amas to negotiate a peace treaty on orders from King Liam of Roldaer.
Danil is suspicious of their sincerity but escorts them to a nearby camp to meet with Prince Sonnen of Corros, one of the Amasian houses. He agrees to take them but is just as suspicious. Their suspicions build when an assassin tries, unsuccessfully, to kill Danil. But it reveals a talent Danil didn’t know he had, the ability to see the Trueforms of the Amasians even when they haven’t transformed into their spirit animals. Since Amasians from the House of Eyrie don’t reveal their Trueforms to anyone outside of their house, it’s a dangerous skill to have.
Once Danil, Hafryn and Sonnen are in Corros with the emissary, it’s all politics and intrigue and someone clearly doesn’t want peace with Roldaer. Danil is viewed with disdain since he’s technically a Roldaerian and the way things are going, the deadlands won’t have a custodian for long.
KK Ness is wonderful at world building. We still haven’t seen a great deal of Roldaer so we don’t really know what it’s like but Amas, its inhabitants and its history are so immersive that you can lose yourself in them for days. It’s so filmic that I can see the movie version in my head. The best scenes are the ones in which Danil is discovering and using his magical abilities and although there’s an element of “that was convenient” to it, it’s done so well that you don’t really mind.
At the end of the first book, I had an inkling that perhaps the story would switch to the perspective of a different main character (there were certainly enough interesting people to do this) but the author has stuck with Danil and while it has worked this time, there’s still so much more I want to know. There’s no real depth to the villains – all the Roldaerian magi just seem to be greedy and evil and we’ve never gotten to see or know any other Roldaerians – and we’re constantly told that King Liam, the ruler of Roldaer, is behind it all but we’ve never met him either. In fact, Danil is the only not evil Roldaerian we see since the village of Farin was slaughtered at the start of the first book. Surely he can’t be the only one?
The story has what could be perceived as an anti-mining subtext and I kind of like the idea that it’s more than just a fantasy novel but that might be me reading into things that the author didn’t actually intend. It’s also short, a novella rather than a novel but it means you don’t get sick of it like some books that go on and on just for the sake of padding things out.
There were only three things that bothered me:
*Constant references to “officious” robes – I think the author meant “official” and had the two words confused. Either way, it was horribly overused. There certainly didn’t seem to be any other kind of robes.
*All the characters “sketched a bow” instead of just bowing – it became an awfully repetitive phrase but also one that I kept stopping to think about what it really meant.
*Chapters were frequently begun in the same way – “Dawn saw Danil doing this”, “Afternoon saw Hafryn doing that”, “Night saw Sonnen doing something else”. Eventually I was longing for a bit of variety.
Still, they’re minor points. It’s another good book from KK Ness and will only contribute to the development of her reputation in the fantasy genre.
*First published on Goodreads 28 December 2017