Do you ever regret giving 5 stars to the first book of a series, not because it doesn't deserve it, but because the second book is even better and you have no way to make the rating reflect that?
Because that's the case here.
I absolutely LOVED Cobweb Bride, I think I ended up making myself somewhat of a nuisance and recommending it to my entire friends' list on Goodreads because I couldn't bear the thought that someone somewhere was not, as I was, still trapped in that book's universe and willingly searching for Death's Keep in the Northern Forest. No, they were just going on with their lives...
Cobweb Empire picks up right where Cobweb Bride left off - I can't say where, and how, exactly, because that would just spoil the whole first book for those who haven't read it, but let's just say that Percy is a girl on a mission, appointed by Death himself (this is still weird for me, by the way - in Portuguese Death is a woman...) and the whole troupe is there with her.
But things are getting progressively worse in the world. It's not just the fact that people have ceased dying - places are disappearing at dusk, going missing into the shadows and sometimes, when light returns, they do not come back.
So Percy's mission, which she undertakes accompanied by the Black Knight Beltain, must be completed with the utmost urgency.
Still, Percy has some trouble dealing with her new "status", shall we say...
We revisit the delightful Lady Amaryllis and Lord Nathan of Morphea, who are still prisoners and have the most imaginative escape I've ever read! I love these two so much! I really hope we'll get to see more of them!
We are introduced to some new characters - I'll let everyone discover them on their own when they read the book, with one exception: the Sovereign of the Sapphire Court, Rumanar Avalais. I could spend the rest of my life writing about my fascination and, dare I say it, love for evil ladies. For instance, Princess Aurora is so dull, all she does is sleep and sing, but Maleficent? That's a lady with a plan, an awesome name, an amazing wardrobe, a clever pet, and the ability to turn into a dragon. Also, Izma, and Ursula, and all the awesome poisoners, schemers, power hungry women in every story ever. Evil ladies, what can I say? Role models, really.
Her Brilliance (a title I shall claim if my plans to rule the world come to fruition) Rumanar Avalais entered right away into this pantheon. She has the most amazing beauty routine, which consists of draining the life out of beautiful young girls and keeping herself forever young. Right there I was quite taken - but she did all this while ruling her own kingdom and being the very definition of "all shall love me and despair". Plus, she's quite the trickster as we come to find out in the very last page...
I shall say no more but that Rumanar Avalais is probably my second favourite character of this series.
The first being, of course, the undead Infanta Claere Liguon who though admittedly lacking in evil ways makes up for it by being a very frail lady who suddenly finds herself empowered by her death (...or undeath) at the hands of her murderer turned... what? Yes, that's the only downside to this book. I was really looking forward to Claere and Vlau and their complex relationship. Because really, what do you do when you kill someone and then fall in love with them?
Still, I loved this book so, so much! I'm still suffering from an absolutely soul crushing book hangover because of it. Send help. In the form of the third book, preferably.
Taking place soon after the events of Cobweb Bride, this volume is once again a magnificent tribute to the art of fine writing, showcasing the author's unparalleled imagination.
Taking place on a grander scale that the one presented in Cobweb Bride, its characters are drawn in such a whimsical and rich way, that can only add more colour to the rich environment in which the story takes place.
In a mixture of occidental with oriental, with frontiers blurred and later on simply gone without a trace, Cobweb Empire manages to tell a familiar tale, of long lost traditions and mythology, but in its peculiar and very original voice.
In the first book, we were introduced to a number of characters, and I confess that I especially loved Percy and the Black Knight. Although Claere _The doomed Infanta _ and Vlau, the Marquis, managed to leave me quite engrossed in their story.
Not only that, but the characters felt alive _ not an easy feat, since one of them was already dead! _, they had a fire to them!!
And I'm not only referring to the moment when Percy makes uses of a skillet... on the Black Night's head!
So yes, I was really looking forward to reading this second volume!
And if the plot and world building are most likely worthy of a five star rating, the characters _for me _ in this volume weren't...
There's this phrase in the book that pretty much sums the thing that made it impossible for me to fully connect with the characters and love them as I did in the first volume:
“This is all the stuff of poetry and minstrel song”
No one can deny, _least of all me _ that the way the characters are portrayed in this story couldn't be more in "agreement" with the tone of the story.
The thing is, I wanted more from them!
More feeling! More emotion!! It was like the characters were distanced from one another... and stiff... as beautiful ice statues... or yes, as a minstrel song that touches only the surface...
Regarding the relationship between Percy and the Black Knight, and although being aware of their social positions, I disliked the way Percy faded in comparison to the way she had been portrayed in the first book.
Then I missed Claere and Vlau... I really, really did!!
Truth is, all the other characters _although crucial to the story _ for all their peculiarities, felt almost all the same and not that interesting.
Even so, this was a masterful story, and after the way it ended I'm quite curious to see what is going to happen in the last volume.
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