Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron

I read the first three Eli Monpress novels (The Spirit ThiefThe Spirit Rebellion and The Spirit Eater) early in 2011. I had hoped to read The Spirit War in mid 2011, but a publisher decision was made to delay the release and repackage the first three as an omnibus. The Spirit War was published in mid 2012 as a result of this.

It's kind of odd going back to Eli and his little gang of cohorts after nearly 2 years away. In some ways it is as if the author finished a large chapter in the cocky, vain thief's life with The Spirit Eater and then picked up a new story in The Spirit War.

Although Eli, the demonseed Nico as well as their occasional ally and rival Miranda Lyonette do appear in the early parts of the book, The Spirit War, especially the first half of it, is really the story of swordsman Josef Liechten. The prologue is actually an account of how he came to wield the world's greatest awakened blade The Heart of War.

It turns out that Josef is not simply a blade for hire as he appears to be. He is the runaway prince of the kingdom of Osera, and it's long past due that he go back home and make peace with his mother and sort the issue out once and for all.

Osera is an important strategic point in the long running ware against the Immortal Empress. If Osera falls then so does the rest of the world beyond it. For that reason the kingdom can't fall, the only person who can defend it is Josef and he won't be able to do that unless he has his friend and most beloved of the Shepherdess Benehime by his side.

To a large extent Josef's story and maybe even Nico's are wrapped up in The Spirit War. There are also some shocking revelations about Eli, and while the defence of Osera is dealt with in this book, there is a cliffhanger ending concerning Eli and that will ensure that I keep on reading for the series' finale Spirit's End.

These books are great fun and while they do have some dark moments, overall the touch is kept suitably light. There was less interaction with the spirits this time and I've always liked those moments, so hopefully they'll come back in Spirit's End. On the other hand I really enjoy Miranda's interaction with her ghosthound Gin, and we did get plenty of that.

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