Sea of Shadows (Strands of Existence, Book 2), by Aino Lahteva
Hey guys, welcome back to Bookish Beyond.
Have you stumbled across any delicious new reads lately
Fortunately, I have. Today, I’m excited to be reviewing Sea of Shadows, the second book in the Strands of Existence series, by Aino Lahteva.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
Set in the city of Kerth, young Isa is now a fully fledged consecrator, manifesting strong magical powers. However, she has yet to know the woman she was reincarnated after. While her memories mix with those of her former self, Istrata, Isa must gather yet more memories in order to truly understand her past. Amidst all this, she is required to play an important part in a revolution against the current ruler of Kerth, Irinda. However, Istrata’s memories bring on strong emotions for Isa; feelings of a past love and tragic happenings, feelings Isa will have to come to terms with, even though they don’t feel like her own.
Meanwhile, soldiers are preparing to go to war against Irinda and are steadily gathering support from parts of Kerth. Soon, the long awaited battle begins.
Can Isa and her allies save their beloved Kerth from the rule of an ignorant leader?
Will Rime and Isa survive together to build a future?
Will the land of Aderas ever be healed?
Isa, our leading lady, is a headstrong and dedicated consecrator. Her courage and persistence make her a worthy heroine as she works to overthrow a leader who refuses to acknowledge the problems plaguing her people. Isa proved to be a strong and reliable character, always pulling through for those she is close to. She plays her part in the oncoming revolution, even if this involves carrying out deeds that go against her conscience. She is willing to take risks and go against the grain, in order to save the future of Kerth.
Rime, Isa’s husband and a soldier, turned Captain/General proved to be brave and authoritative, as well as caring deeply about the men under his charge. He has grown a lot since book one, having become stronger, now sure of himself and his place amongst his fellow soldiers. He was a strategic, intelligent, and strong-willed man that had come to be both respected and feared by Kerth’s citizens. I liked that he also had a more playful side to contrast his serious demeanour, a side which came out more often around Isa.
Riestel, a frost consecrator, remained as mysterious and unpredictable as always. I was never sure if I trusted him. He was the Mirror Queen’s original love, having lost her long ago. As a result, he became a complicated and bitter man. He puts on a cold, overly-confident façade, which I feel hides the shattered soul which dwells beneath. He has a wry sense of humour and proved to be stubborn, yet full of surprises.
Irinda, the current ruler of Keth, was seldom seen in the book, except for in a few chapters. In that way, she appeared mysterious as I didn’t feel I knew much about her. She was equally as headstrong as Isa and possessed a fierceness that could fill a man’s soul with cold dread. She proved to be callous and wilfully blind to the truth of things. Her ignorance to the problems of her citizens and persistence to get her own way made her a terrible ruler in my eyes and made it easier to root against her.
There was much I enjoyed whilst reading Sea of Shadows, examples of which I have included below.
- The story features delicious surprises and clever magical abilities, plus interpersonal conflicts that work to up the tension when its needed most.
- Intense battle scenes dominate the pages, with vivid detail and heart-pounding tension.
- I enjoyed learning about how the religious beliefs in Gods and powers came to exist in Kerth.
- The book was strategically planned. It explored the complexity of war, alliances, betrayals, the diplomatic proceedings involved, and more.
- This was a very visual story, appealing to the senses in a remarkable way.
- The relationships between characters are deep and well thought out, with humour speckled throughout. Isa and Rime’s relationship in particular felt so pure, so deep and natural. They possessed a powerful kind of love which transcended trivial issues of the mortal world.
- You get a real sense of the character’s desperation for profound change in their city. Everything is hanging in the balance, ready to be lost if failure occurs.
Although there were plenty of positive attributes to this story, there was one thing that left me feeling a bit dissatisfied. I couldn’t actually remember what happened in book one as it’s been a good year or so since I read it. As such, I had hoped for at least a small recap on the current situation so I knew where the characters were at, so to speak. However, there wasn’t much in the way of exposition. When I began reading the book, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. In this case, I feel that maybe the author could have re-introduced the story by providing a small overview.
As always, I kept my eyes open for some wise quotes while reading. In Sea of Shadows, I found them in abundance, however, I have settled on the following five, which I feel best express some of the key ideas of the novel.
1) ‘Everything was so empty. Each life, each violent death, each moment. Why? Because a few people in power didn’t listen or see the despair sowed among their subjects?’
2) ‘Placing them neatly in one single category. That way their humanity ceased.’
3) ‘Each of us have something unique; we have all shaped this world.’
4) ‘People change throughout life so much, yet no-one says they aren’t themselves, or that they’re copies or fragments.’
5) ‘The correct and right thing isn’t always what feels the best or yields a moral satisfaction. Sometimes the right thing is horrible, brutal, and makes no-one happy at that moment.’
Sea of Shadows proved to be a highly imaginative story, with themes of power, betrayal, life, loss, war, and more. This is a gripping read that will enamour you with its characters and detailed plot. The story ends with a wonderfully tense climax, with everything laid out on the line- the future of a beloved city, the lives of the main characters, etc.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: Fantasy lovers who seek greater meaning in stories.
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