Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 37/200
The Straits of Galahesh By Bradley Beaulieu
Finished on 3/9/2018
West of the Grand Duchy of Anuskaya lies the Empire of Yrstanla, the Motherland. The Empire has lived at peace with Anuskaya for generations, but with political turmoil brewing and the wasting disease still rampant, opportunists from the mainland have begun to set their sights on the Grand Duchy, seeking to expand their empire.
Five years have passed since Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, was tasked with finding Nasim, the child prodigy behind a deadly summoning that led to a grand clash between the armies of man and elder elemental spirits. Today, that boy has grown into a young man driven to understand his past – and the darkness from which Nikandr awakened him. Nikandr’s lover, Atiana, has become a Matra, casting her spirit forth to explore, influence, and protect the Grand Duchy. But when the Al-Aqim, long thought lost to the past, return to the islands and threaten to bring about indaraqiram – a change that means certain destruction for both the Landed and the Landless – bitter enemies must become allies and stand against their horrific plans.
Can the Grand Duchy be saved? The answer lies hidden within the Straits of Galahesh…
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Military Fantasy
Vodka, Flying Sailing Ships and Magic
Three ancient wizards have returned to the Archipelago of the Grand Duchy, seemingly intent on destroying the world. Book two of the Lays of Anyaskya trilogy, ‘the Straits of Galahesh’ is a swashbuckling adventure of landed Russian-types in their quest to maintain their kingdom against rebellious, oppressed indigenous locals while they fight off a supernatural plague and war brought upon them by a distant empire.
Setting: The Archipelago of the Grand Duchy is a fantastic location. There are rifts into the Underworld/Elemental Plane opening up and sucking the life out of the world. There are flying sailing ships- think a Spanish Galleon but in the air. The indigenous population uses elemental magic to call upon semi-sentient elemental forces to aid them, while the noblewomen of the oppressing Duchy use psychic Aether-magic to control their population and provide military support.
Plot: This was a McGuffin plot, with everyone looking for a magical blue rock- the good guys hoping to use the rock to seal the rifts which are slowly dragging the world of the living into the world of the spirits, while the bad guys want to use the stone to speed up the process so the whole world is consumed and ‘enlightened’ by becoming one with the world of the spirits. Early on there was also two strong plotlines: one of the Russian-esque overlords trying to find peace with rebellious indigenous locals, while the other was a conspiracy plotline of a King’s first wife trying to knock off his second wife. Both of these were were stronger plotlines than the McGuffin plotline, but unfortunately they ended about halfway through the book..
Pacing: Good to great. It was never slow, but at points it was super fast while at other points it was contemplative. I enjoyed my time reading this book, and the audiobook narrator did a good job presenting it.
Characters: The various POV characters had stellar characterization, but minimal character development. By this I mean each of the major characters were unique individuals, but they didn’t change throughout the course of the story much- with the exception of Nasim. I liked how he developed (from confused young reincarnated man to a demigod reborn), and wished that all the different characters had equal development. My biggest complaint is that the character names are all so non-Anglicized that I had trouble following who was who.
Net total, a worthy successor to the first book in the series. I think I liked ‘The Winds of Khalakovo’ a little more than this because it was such an unexpected delight. You should read that and see if you like it before reading this.