Nine years have passed since the Akarans took back their empire from the Mein. Queen Corinn rules the land with an iron fist, while her surviving siblings, Mena and Dariel, cautiously support her. Mena has been tasked with defeating the last of the foulthings, beasts created as a side product of the ancient magic that was unleashed to defeat the Meinish army. Dariel is chosen by Corinn to travel across the sea to the Other Lands to finally meet the Lothun Aklun, who supply the Known World with the drug called mist in exchange for child slaves, or quota children, who are sent off to an unknown fate.
The Other Lands is truly a bridge book. Compared to the first book, which saw the Akarans deposed, scattered and reunited, the plot here moves far slower. Although the reader finally learns the unsettling fate of the quota children and more about the mysterious Other Lands, most of the action is bookended in the beginning and end of the book. Durham uses the middle to flesh out the Akaran siblings, particularly Corinn, whose transformation at the end of the first book has been multiplied tenfold. The stage being set for the final book is evident at the halfway point, so a lot of pages are spent in a “hurry-up-and-wait” mode. Mena’s story in particular fizzles out fairly quickly and a lot of Dariel’s arch involves him sitting around listening to people talk. All that being said, reading the book never felt like a chore that needed to be completed to finally reach the good stuff. Durham’s prose is as good as ever, and having gotten used to his writing style after the first book (which took me a month to read), I finished The Other Lands in half the time.