In Azgarth's Shadow

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

(DNF at 24%)

i haven't DNF'd a book in a while and of course when i do it's a netgalley one. don't you just love how life works out 

this was definitely a not-you-it's-me situation. i think the main problem was that this is a sequel, and there was NO INDICATION of this on netgalley or on goodreads - i was the one who added it to the series on GR. so this isn't a failing of the book, but of the publishers who hadn't made it clear. perhaps this could be read as a standalone, but for me it didn't work; there was too much background that had been established in the first book so i'm just completely lost and i have no idea who is who or what's going on, and i can't connect to anything.
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Book – In Azgarth's Shadow (Azgarth's Saga? #2)
Author – Cassie Sweet
Star rating - ★★★★☆
No. of Pages – 258
Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 3rd person, multi-character
Would I read it again – Maybe
Genre – LGBT, Historical, Fantasy, Paranormal
Content Warning – scenes of war, implied rape, reanimation (resurrection of the dead), drug use


** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **



First off, I do have to note that this is book 2 in a series. I need to point that out because, despite the 3-line Author's note at the beginning of the book, there is nothing to tell you that anywhere else – not on GR, not on the publisher's website, in the blurb. It's nowhere to be seen. I knew this was a series book when I saw it on Netgalley, because I'd read book 1 back in 2016 and have been waiting for this book ever since. You can see the confusion that it's caused by the very fact that I don't know what to call the series. There is no “official” name anywhere that I can find, only the mention in the Author's note of 'the next chapter in Azgarth's saga.'

So, if you haven't read book 1 first then you should; you won't understand a thing you read in this book if you haven't read book 1 first. I say that because the MC Nicholas Alexandre was introduced in book 1, as was his sister, and, although there are a few recap moments of big events from book 1, there is not enough contained in this book to cover all the events or the importance of their impact on this book.

Although the world building in book 1 was fantastic, it was lacking here. I felt that the only way to understand the world in this book would be to read book 1 first, ideally right before reading this one, as I did. Even then, there were a few problems with continuity. First off, we're told at the very start – right in the first two pages – that not only does Nicholas die, but he's quite aware of the Fae world. He mentioned 'the fae realm', 'his grief' and seeing something in Sir Radcliffe's eyes that is linked to the Fae and Azgarth. Yet, nowhere in book 1 were we ever told that Nicholas had an agent or experience with Azgarth or the Fae world. There were no prelude into the world building, no recap until we were already knee-deep into Nicholas' death and his resurrection. It felt like the start of this book was nothing more than a continuation of the previous one, it jumped right into the story without pause.

There were a few attempts at new world building; adding on details to what we already knew from book 1, with the Watchers like Albie, and the world of the Fae where they introduced multiple new creatures. It also gave us information about how the agents function; that they're given extended life, such as Roman being 200 years old. It also explains the after effects of the events in book 1, where they destroyed the book and the impact it had on the names inside the book.

There are a few new characters here; Nicholas was only a minor character in the previous book, but there is also Roman Cetanni, an agent for Azgarth who is much more cooperative and willing to help them bring down Azgarth. It was a bit disappointing to see that Valentine was basically non-existent in this book, despite the fact that he had so much knowledge of the Fae realm and Azgarth's court. He was never used for information, he was barely present in the book at all, and I felt like he was pretty much discarded in favour of the new reanimated character.

The second half had a lot of action, a little disproportionately to the first half, where things came to a head and began to round up the story. Or so I thought. Instead, what felt like the lead to a huge big bang of an ending, it was actually a little anti-climactic. I found some of the action and fight scenes difficult to follow, because there was so much going on and there was such a mix of science and magic that things often felt a bit more steampunk in nature and harder to conceptualize.

In the end, I felt that there were a few unanswered questions, such as the tension between Mikhail and Dante which has been there since book 1 but has never been addressed; the repeated emphasis that was put on the importance of Nicholas being a cousin of the csar, which was never explained and didn't make sense in terms of the point it had in the story; as well as the lingering question of who Mikhail's agent is and whether that is Dante, as has been heavily implied in this book. I also have to wonder how the characters can recover from this monumental war and continue on from here, without it being the end. How many wars can they go through? How much more punishments from Azgarth will they face? And there was no hint or answer as to whether the agents turned against Azgarth in his brother's favour.

Overall, yes there were some editing issues, and I had some issues with plot gaps and unanswered questions, but I enjoyed the continuation of the story. I think the plots were well linked and I'm glad that the previous characters returned, even if some were a bit more hidden than the others. While I enjoyed the plotting and the storytelling, with the good writing and the world building, I have some reservations about this book and where the series can go in the future. I do wonder where it can go from here and whether there will be another animation or not. It's kind of the central point of both books, I have to wonder who they will reanimate and how they'll be able to link that into the story yet again.

~

Favourite Quote

“A motto near and dear to Roman's heart popped into his head: beware of smiling fae.”
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In Azgarth's Shadow is a very detailed and intricate story, very layered in its prose, characters and, most especially, its worldbuilding. Second in a series with more to come, there is clearly a lot more to the world explored outside this book, but there is enough there for the reader to follow the events. There is a lot of exposition but none of it dragged: I was impressed by the cohesive way it was delivered and how fascinating and satisfying it was to read. Some parts could be a little confusing, but nothing felt overly convoluted or unnecessarily overloaded. The writing in general was fantastic and I ended up highlighting many lines that stuck out. 

Each of the key characters have excellent, establishing introductions that lead into interesting character study and development. Of the main cast, I found the parts in Nicholas' perspective the most engaging and interesting. I loved how details of his life unfolded throughout, the way his sister's death had affected him was presented, and the progression of his and Roman's relationship. Roman as an individual character was just as good; I enjoyed reading about Mikhail, Dante, Henri and others too, but would have liked to see a bit more of them. There was a certain disconnect in certain perspectives due to not all of the characters having as layered interactions with some as with others, but this felt relatively natural. The subtle divide allowed more variance in tone and portrayal of the world and story's events. 

I'm glad that the book is part of a series, such an interesting world definitely deserves more stories and I'd be equally glad to see the same characters again or new ones to meet. I'll definitely be reading the first of the series at some point and looking out for future installments.
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