Book Review: We Lie With Death (The Reborn Empire #2) by Devin Madson
Back in December 2018 I read We Ride The Storm, the first book in The Reborn Empire series by Devin Madson and I LOVED it. It was my book of 2018. (Read my review here). Fast-forward to December 2019 and I finished the second book, We Lie With Death, and also massively enjoyed it!
This second novel picks up soon after the first one ends. The empire of Kisia has been conquered by the Levanti, and they’re settling in. The new emperor, Gideon, is doing his best to keep his Levanti people together while also attempting to get the conquered Kisians on side by adopting some of their practices. The Chiltaens are licking their wounds back in their country, and there’s one person who is back in Kisia – even though they already died… The Kisians are reeling from the invasion, and different factions are plotting their revenge.
The story is told from four point of view characters. The captain Dishiva is loyal to Gideon, but also to her roots. The Levanti are horse people who ride in herds across the plains. So, the niceties and etiquette of the Kisians is a complete contrast to what she knows. She’s suspicious about the back-from-the-dead person who Gideon seems to favour, but every effort she makes to uncover the truth is thwarted. This makes her even more wary of their intentions and more determined to discover what secrets this resurrected person is keeping.
We also hear again from Rah e’Torin, the banished captain of the Second Swords. He upholds the Levanti honour code to the bitter end, and that has got him into some trouble with the new emperor. He’s cast out from the herd and must find his way again – is he what the Levanti need in Kisia or should he head back to the plains? He pairs up with an unlikely ally and spends a lot of time with a dog in the rain pondering what he should do next.
The ousted Kisian empress Miko is in hiding, she’s attempting to gather allies to her to retake her throne. But getting anywhere in the Kisian rain is a bit of a nightmare – and then people she thinks she can trust, betray her – or die. She knows who she needs, but he’s inconvenienced in the new emperor’s dungeons.
And lastly, we hear again from Chiltaen whore and assassin Cassandra – my favourite! – who is now in the care of a Witchdoctor who is studying Cassandra’s strange ability. Cassandra wants the second voice out of her head, but discovers the alternative could be worse, much worse. She ends up partnering with the last person you’d imagine she’d end up with and their adventures – often at crossed purposes – is fun to witness.
I love the writing style of this author. I got swept along in each of the narratives and could read for hours without tiring. The imagery is vivid and unique and the turn of phrase of the Levanti is distinctive. The dialogue naturally flows and the internal dialogue of each character is authentic.
Although I really enjoyed this, I didn’t quite love it as much as book one. I found Dishiva’s narrative a little slow and Rah and Miko both spend a lot of time floundering in the rain (there’s a lot of rain in this book!) on long journeys. Cassandra was the only character who, for me, had lots of action and intrigue and interesting twists.
So, although the pace wasn’t as fast as book one, it’s still a brilliant read and I can’t wait for book three. This is a great read for those who love Asian-inspired fantasy, grittier reads with multiple POV characters and beautifully crafted prose.
My rating: 4/5
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*I received a review copy from the author
>>My novel, a grimdark epic fantasy called MELOKAI, is out now! Available from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Read more about my books here.<<
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