Lord of Souls – Greg Keyes

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Author: Greg Keyes
Series: The Elder Scrolls #2
Pages: 316

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Forty years after the Oblivion crisis, the empire of Tamriel is threatened by a mysterious floating city, Umbriel, whose shadow spawns a terrifying undead army.

Reeling from a devastating discovery, Prince Attrebus continues on his seemingly doomed quest to obtain a magic sword that holds the key to destroying the deadly invaders. Meanwhile, in the Imperial City, the spy Colin finds evidence of betrayal at the heart of the empire—if his own heart doesn’t betray him first. And Annaïg, trapped in Umbriel itself, has become a slave to its dark lord and his insatiable hunger for souls.

How can these three unlikely heroes save Tamriel when they cannot even save themselves?

I could almost make a copy & paste of my previous review of The Infernal City, but that wouldn’t be fair. This second book is slighty better. Even though it lacks the same things as the first part; I was prepared for it, so the disappointment has been cut down.

It is supposed to continue the story from when we left it in the Infernal City, but it’s obvious there has been some development between the two of them that is not told by the author. It also presents a new plot line starred by Imperial soldiers facing Umbriel and Colin gets much more pages than in the first book. Sadly, Attrebus’ and Sul’s part is reduced… which hasn’t made me happy at all. The prince is still the most interesting character of the books.

The action gets better, but not much. The description of those parts is lazy and lacking interest everywhere. In this genre, if the action is bad, it’s very hard to engage the reader. The plot with the Imperial soldiers is supposed to be the one with more action, due to the army of zombies that they are facing. But still… It’s barely there… It ends as soon as it starts. I would remove those characters from the book. I could barely stand to read their chapters.

Annaïg and her cooking lessons is the other part that is overused. One more chapter about the daily menu and I would have thrown the book through the window… It’s a bit too much. The first time it was kind of cool to read about Umbriel’s high cuisine, but after that… I couldn’t stop screaming: Get to the good part!! In my humble opinion, the good part starts in the second part of the book, when Annaïg’s plan really begins.

What about the end? I must say the end is balanced with the rest of this saga: lazy and lacking feelings. There are some deaths that should bring tears to your eyes; but being honest, to feel those deaths you have to make a connection with the characters and it’s very unlikely that you could form one with the ones that Greg has created.

I know this sound like a very negative review, but the book is not boring at all. It’s just that the author has been unable to capture the richness of Tamriel. Too bad these are the only novels based on that Universe. I would love to keep reading books about the Elder Scrolls, but it looks like that bridge has been burnt.

I guess I’ll never know if Treb and Annaïg were happy after this. If you ask me, the Prince deserves waaaaaaay better. That breton lady is pretty scary…

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Next: You’ve Got Fail by Celia Aaron

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The Infernal City – Greg Keyes

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Author: Greg Keyes
Series: The Elder Scrolls #1
Pages: 304

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Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis, Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil. It is Umbriel, a floating city that casts a terrifying shadow–for wherever it falls, people die and rise again.

And it is in Umbriel’s shadow that a great adventure begins, and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary prince with a secret. A spy on the trail of a vast conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaig, a young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest…

First of all, although I enjoy a lot the Elder Scrolls Saga I’m not a huge fan and my knowledge about that world is fairly limited. Most of it comes from my many hours of playing the Elder Scrolls Online, whose plot happens way before this book. That said, I may have gotten some fact wrongly about that universe, so forgive me.

The action of this book takes us four decades after the Oblivion videogame, one I have not played… so I had no idea about the political situation of Tamriel around those events. But I was hoping for the author to help the reader catch up, which sadly doesn’t happen. Anyway…. The book tells us the story of Umbriel, a floating city from Oblivion that has suddenly appeared over Black Marsh and it’s killing everything in its path. A breton woman and her argonian friend (Annaïg and Mere-Glim) go there to investigate, but entering the city is far easier than leaving it. At the same time, we follow Attrebus Mede, son of the Emperor; who is contacted by Annaïg asking for help. The Prince gathers his men to travel to Umbriel to defeat the city. Ha accepted the quest!! (I had to say it, sorry)

Anyone who has ever palyed an Elder Scroll videogame must know that its mythology is very rich. The games are full of lore everywhere. So I must admit I was a bit sad that Greg Keyes didn’t took part of it more actively. His lore references are scarce and pretty vague. If you have a basic knowledge of Tamriel, you are not going to get the lore dosis you are used to. If you are new to that world… you are going to be lost all the time. The author doesn’t explain anything about the world sorrounding the main characters. Except with the brand-new Umbriel. Unfortunately, the floating city is more gross than interesting…

The other thing I was expecting was plenty of action. Epic battles, swordmasters, spellcrafting! Buuuut, no… There is action now and then, but it’s not exciting at all. Most of those scenes are just plain carnages that take a couple of sentences to describe. Not really engaging or fun. Does that mean the book is boring? No, not even close. Greg crafts very short chapters, so the reader doesn’t have time to get bored in any part of the plot. At least I’ll give him that.

The only character I really like and I want to read more about is Attrebus. From now on I will call him Treb, because I feel we are friend already. I LOVE his parts of the book. It’s must be hard to realize that your life is just a perfectly orchestrated play to make you look good. But he owned it and rose about all of that more beautiful than ever. I’m not a supporter of the Empire, but I must admit that Treb is going to be a great Emperor someday. Or maybe he already was? Crazy timeline…

So, if you have been a fan of Elder Scrolls videogames for a long time it’s not very likely that you will enjoy the book. If you have no idea what that is about, your likelihood of liking it is even smaller. If you are in the same level as me… I guess you could enjoy it. Sadly, there is almost nothing remarkable about it…

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Next: Lord of Souls by Greg Keyes