Thursday, 9 February 2012

Review: 'Tears for Requiem' by Daniel Arenson

This second part of the 'Song of Dragons' trilogy, 'Tears of Requiem', is a perfect sequel to 'Blood of Requiem'.  First, a summary: 

The nightshades cover the land. Demons of smoke and shadow, they fear no sword or arrow. They suck the souls from all who live, like a glutton sucking marrow from bones. The world falls under their darkness.
But the nightshades crave more than random ruin. The souls of mere humans will not sate them. They seek dragons.
Requiem's last dragons, a mere scattering of survivors, have fought off men and griffins. But how can they fight the nightshades, creatures they cannot cut or burn?

I absolutely loved the first book, because it was one of the most original dragon stories I have ever read and when it ended I felt there was so much more to tell. 'Tears of Requiem' picks up right where 'Blood of Requiem' left of, which meant I was immediately sucked back into the story. Kyrie is on the run with the last remaining Vir Requis: Benedictus, his wife Lacrimosa and their daughter Agnus Dei. Gloriae, the daughter who was stolen by Dies Irae, has released the nightshades, who are ravaging the kingdom and killing its inhabitants. These Nightshades were a brilliant addition to the story because they are genuinely terrifying. Especially the effect they have on Gloriae and, later on, on Dies Irae leaves a lasting impression. Thankfully, this book has the right mix between action and context. There are impressive fight scenes in which full use is made of the fact that the main characters are dragons. And there is still time for the characters to develop.

What I think is great in the story is that the Vir Requis aren't out for revenge per se, they want to rebuild their own home, Requiem. It is very much a battle for equality and acceptance and this is perhaps best represented in Gloriae. In this book she finally has to face up to who she is and what she has done. Because Arenson has chosen to write each chapter from another perspective we also get to see how thoughts and actions are opposed. Kyrie is an adorable character that I think everyone could identify with. He is full of life and  need for adventure, yet he is also loyal and honest. His relationship with Agnus Dei is therefor not a big surprise. She is my absolute favourite character. At times she is filled with anger and loss and at other times she can be caring and forgiving. Daniel has achieved what I see as crucial to a book: real characters. They are not stereotypes, they have human traits and arguments and are, at times, despicable. Even Dies Irae seems to have a more humane side and we learn more and more about him throughout the book.

Again, I absolutely loved Daniel's description of the characters' surroundings. Especially when the Vir Requis travel in the hope of finding a way of battling the Nightshades we get to see a wide variety of landscapes. What this adds to the story is that we are able to place the characters somewhere, instead of having them floating around in a nothing inside our minds. I also made an incredible discovery. Incredibly stupid perhaps, because I cannot believe I didn't notice it earlier. I already mentioned that each of them have Latin names, but now I was accidentally listening to Mozart's Requiem while reading the book and I noticed that almost all of the characters have names linked to songs from there, except Gloriae. So I had another listen and to my surprise found that the characters respond very well to the music. I love having a soundtrack to a book, so it seems I have found mine. 

In short, this book is bound to have you on the edge of your seat. The story line offers both tearjerkers and action-packed chases. Daniel again achieves writing a beautifully human story, set in fascinating fantasy landscape.

I give this book...


So, what do you think?

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