Disclaimer! I was granted an ARC copy of this through NetGalley. That has in no way influenced my review.
Spoiler warning! This is the second book in The Kingmaker Chronicles and as such this review may contain mild spoilers both for the first book in the series, A Promise of Fire and for the beginning of this book. If you’re new to the series, start with book one. If you like going in not knowing anything, come back and read this review once you’ve finished the book.
Griffin has discovered the truth about Cat’s parentage and past and is none too happy about it. After throwing one hell of a tantrum, he seems very surprised when Cat has retreated to her old room in the barracks, believing that he can no longer stand to be near her. After revealing the full truth of her past to him, they reconcile most ardently and then begin to consider what to do about the upcoming Power Bid in the region. Cat is the rightful heir of Fisa and knows that at some point, she has to confront her tyrannical and sadistic mother and end her reign once and for all. The third country in the region, Tarva, are making overtures towards invading Sinta and Griffin and his family need to figure out what to do to protect themselves until they can further consolidate power.
Cat suggests recruiting the aid of magical creatures to guard their borders. In order to do so, they first have to go see a Chaos Wizard and then complete a dangerous and elaborate quest in a maze in the ice caves in the mountains. Only Cat and Cato, one of the other members of Beta Team are allowed into the caves. Griffin, Carver and Flynn have to wait outside. Cat has been granted Ariadne’s thread, which will never run out, so she and Cato can find their way back out, but inside the caves, they have to face a number of challenges and Cat comes to discover new and surprising gifts granted to her by her godly protectors.
Once they’ve survived the maze and Artemis’ challenges, they have to travel to actually persuade the giant centaurs they want to recruit to join their cause. This involves trying to outsmart a hydra and another set of challenges. When they finally do make it back to Sinta, it’s clear that the best way to gain access to the Tarvan capital and its royals is by competing in and winning a hugely popular bloodsport tournament, held every four years. The winners are granted an audience with the Tarvan rulers. Gaining access to the palace could allow Beta Team to usurp power without having to go to war. The tournament is fiendishly difficult, however, and it’s going to take a lot for them to win.
A Promise of Fire was one of my favourite books last year and combined an interesting and elaborate fantasy world, complete with a lot of influence from Greek mythology, with a satisfying, slow-burning romance.
Full review here.