Book Review: Sunstone by Freya Robertson

Sunstone by Freya Robertson

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Series: The Elemental Wars #2

Publisher: Angry Robot Books

Publication Date: March 2014

Wendy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

As always, Robertson’s world and character building is incredible. Anguis continues to enthrall me with its beauty and its many realms and unique people.

The events that occurred in the previous book, Heartwood, resulted in significant losses, but also in a greater understanding of the mysterious Arbor, the great tree that is the centre of the world of Anguis. Saving the Arbor brought the rival factions of Anguis together to serve and protect the tree and for a time, there was peace.

But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.

Now, 22 years after the Dark Water Lords rose up against the Arbor a new threat looms and heroes across time must do their part to stop the Incendi from razing the world with fire.

Readers of Heartwood will recognize many characters, including Procella, the noble military woman and former Dux and protector of the Arbor. Sadly, her husband, Chonrad, responds to a summons from the Arbor which brings about his death shortly before the book begins. But this story belongs to Procella and their three children, Orsin, Jolen and Horada, who each have their own roles to play in the events. We are introduced to several other new characters, including a young prince who is escorted to the Arbor as the Selected sacrifice, and a group of rebels seeking escape from their underground captivity.

As always, Robertson’s world and character building is incredible. Anguis continues to enthrall me with its beauty and its many realms and unique people. It is also interesting to see how Anguis differs as the separate time lines flow together. It still amazes me how Robertson can manage so many characters and their respective quests, without losing the depth and purpose of either.

Unlike the previous book, the undertaking of the three major quests is a much more organic process. Robertson’s video game – particularly (MMO)RPG – influence was far more evident in Heartwood, and proved a detriment to the storytelling when it came to the parcelling out of details and quests. I didn’t find that to be an issue in Sunstone, and particularly liked the implication of the Arbor’s sentience and manipulation of events (without it being an elaborate case of the tree orchestrating everything like Littlefinger). With the realm of Anguis and the Arbor mostly established, there is less need for the excessive detail Robertson provided previously. That said, Sunstone still suffers from an excess of tell over show, with the reader not being permitted to discern things on their own, or inner monologues that go on a bit too long. This makes the book a bit more pedantic than I’d like, though not enough for me to dislike the series over all. I am still very much intrigued by the Elemental Wars and am looking forward to what mysteries the Arbor will reveal next.

With thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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