The second title in the Books of the Cataclysm fantasy series takes us thousands of years after the death of twins Seth and Hadrian (in The Crooked Letter). The world is a drastically different place, one full of elemental magic, supernatural creatures and the threat of "the void beneath." The time before the cataclysm is spoken about in terms of myth and mystery, often the subject of stories in the Book of Towers.
Sal and Shilly live a life hiding from the sky wardens (magic users who rule the coastal region) for something that happened in the past. They are surprised by a visit from their old friend Tom, now a sky warden. Sal's estranged father is being hunted by the wardens for creating a homunculus, a creature he animated with a soul from the void beneath. Fearful of what the warden's will do with his father, Sal and Shilly agree to help.
Halfway across the world another old friend named Skender, a stone mage with an infallible memory is searching for his mother. She disappeared while on a research trip and Skender has followed her trail to Laure, a city split in half during the cataclysm and now resting on the edge of the divide, a great chasm that is home to all manner of dangerous creatures. Eventually the homonculus leads the sky wardens to Laure, reuniting the friends and intertwining their searches.
My initial reaction to The Blood Debt was not positive. I had expected the story to pick up where The Crooked Letter left off. Once I put aside my disappointment and gave the story a chance I was drawn in. While The Blood Debt reads like a more traditional fantasy, Williams does a wonderful job creating twists and surprises to the common themes. While not all of his characters are instantly likable, they are all multidimensional, making their stories all the more interesting. The one detail that still bothered me was Sal and Shilly's history. Their past with the sky wardens is often spoken about but never fully explained. I have since found out Sal and Shilly were part of another fantasy series of books by Williams.
The Blood Debt is a wonderful continuation in the Books of the Cataclysm. The few problems I have with the story are completely diminished by the storytelling and character. Even if you haven't read The Crooked Letter (although also highly recommended) I still recommend The Blood Debt.
The Blood Debt by Sean Williams
Published by Pyr
The Blood Debt by Sean Williams is available at Amazon.com
Pyr Publishing provided me with a free review copy of The Blood Debt