THE RUINED CITY - Paula Brandon
The Veiled Isle , Book 2
ISBN: 978-0-553-58382-3
March 2012


The city of Vitrisi in the Veiled Isle is very troubled. Since the Taerleezis conquered the isle, the various Faerlonnish family heads, Magnificos, still fight among themselves as well as try to keep their position under the Taerleezis rule. Plague has broken out in the city, and some blame it on the unfortunate Sishmindri, amphibian like creatures, slaves seen as unthinking beings who serve their rich Magnificos. Other rebel Faerlonnish fight to reclaim their land.

Magnifico Aureste Belandor finds his talented arcanist brother, Innesq, has fallen ill with some type of arcane illness. His archenemy's wife, Sonnetia Corvestri, asks Aureste to help free her husband, the Magnifico Vinz Corvestri, from the Witch, a horrible prison. In exchange Vinz, another talented arcanist, will help cure Innesq. Although Aureste instigated Vinz's imprisonment, he agrees. He wants Innesq cured at any cost and seems to have great respect for Sonnetia.

In a rebel Faerlonnish camp far from Vitrisi, Aurete's lost daughter, Jianna, hides under an assumed name, hides from other Belandor relatives, hides from everyone. Her protector, Falaste Rione, is a doctor treating plague victims among the downtrodden rebel fighters. Falaste's sister Celisse urges the rebels to action, to kill the governor at any cost.

When Innesq wakes, the crippled arcanist knows he must gather other arcanists from six families to cleanse the Source, or their world could be doomed. Other complications arise. The Other, a seemingly ethereal intelligence that once ruled the world, again seeks power. An automaton created by another arcanist, Grix Orlazzu runs amuck. The Sishmindri begin their own revolt, and the plague dead don't seem to remain dead.

As readers might notice, many problems threaten this isle, the city, and the people. Violence seems to be a way of life in this very complicated story. The strange, some unstable, characters fit in this oddly vivid setting. Readers might find it hard to identify with the characters of Aureste, Vinz, and Jianna, the three main characters. They seem to have as many abhorrent qualities as good. No one seems to be 'the hero' or 'heroine,' but as events play out, great drama develops making every move suspenseful. It is impossible to guess where this plot will go.

Not having read the first volume, I found it very hard to understand many of the cultural values of the characters, and what their situations were, so I highly recommend reading the THE TRAITOR'S DAUGHTER first. Because this is the second volume in this series, I also think the story felt incomplete, as if some event more positive than those presented should have taken place. The Veiled Isle is a dark and terrifying world full of intense characters and interesting situations fantasy readers will love to explore.

Robin Lee