Highly anticipated sequels can be worrisome. On the one hand, you can’t wait to see what happens to your beloved characters. On the other hand, the book might stink. I’m happy to say that Eidolon is a delightful, fast paced sequel that is a worthy successor to Radiance.
Eidolon begins moments after the end of Radiance; this review will contain spoilers for that novel.
In the castle at Haradis, the young nursemaid Kirgipa walks back and forth as her charge, the newest heir to the heir, fusses herself to sleep. Exiled to the farthest, highest corner of the keep with only the guard Necos as company, Kirgipa is exhausted and anxious to lay down when she first hears the noise – sly whispers followed by shrieks of agony. The baby awakes with a squawk but it is soon clear that is the least of Kirgipa’s problems. Someone has released galla, a type of indestructible demon, into the castle. Everyone on the floors below them is dead. With the help of another guard, Necos, Kirgipa, and the baby escape through the window and flee across the city. It is only the water of the river that saves them, serving as a barrier between themselves and the rampaging horde of supernatural monsters.
In the castle at Saggara, Ildiko prepares for the celebration of Kaherka, the Kai feast of plenty. She is a human of Gauri descent but marrying Prince Brishen, the second son and seventh heir apparent of the Kai king, has made her the Hercegesé, duchess of the Kai people. What began as a political union became an amazing love match and Ildiko is thrilled when she is able to steal her husband away from the festivities for a few private kisses. They barely get three steps from the crowds, though, when his chief lieutenant catches up with them. A messenger has arrived bringing unspeakable news from the capital – Haradis has fallen and the royal family is all dead. Brishen is now King of the Kai.
Brishen had no love for his family, so he doesn’t waste time mourning them. He does spend his time preparing not just for refugees from the capital but the horde of galla that is following them. He also finds himself immediately plunged into affairs of state. The loss of the capital means more than just the loss of the King, Queen and Heir. It means that many noble families were wiped out and already the minor aristocracy are racing to Saggara to jockey for position in the new court. Brishen has to worry about his neighbor nations as well. He has a treaty with the Gaur, sealed through marriage to Ildiko, but no such alliance with the Belawat. Their association can be described as uneasy at best. It is possible that they might see this not as a tragedy with possible worldwide repercussions but the opportunity to strike a weakened opponent.
Ildiko meanwhile is worried about what all this will mean for her marriage. She and Brishen have a passionate relationship but being of different species means they cannot have children together. That was fine when Brishen was seven people removed from the throne but she knows it will be far less acceptable now that he is the likely king.
The reader, of course, knows that the true Queen of the Kai is safe in the arms of Kirgipa, who is fighting alongside Necos to get Her Highness to Saggara and whatever safety Brishen can provide. This brings some comfort as we watch Brishen battle not just for his people but for his marriage. The ever practical Ildiko is perfectly willing to step aside so that he can find another wife, which he has no interest in doing. This is an area where she is obviously seeing more clearly than he is. Killing Brishen and Ildiko will give any of the lesser families a shot at the throne. If Brishen were to marry into one of those families and beget several heirs, it would provide him with much needed allies. It would also secure the succession, rendering his death pointless. It’s nice that we watch them argue these points from the safety of knowing they probably won’t need to worry.
Seeing Brishen and Ildiko reaffirm their love for each other and watching Necos and Kirgipa slowly move towards a romance is delightful. However, it should be noted that while Radiance was a love story this book is more of a fantasy novel. The emphasis here is on the kingdom of Bast-Haradis and what they will need to do to defeat the galla. The world building is superb, the action interesting and the author does a great job of making the story very personal and character centered.
She also does a fantastic job of developing her characters. We see both Ildiko and Brishen embrace new parts of themselves as their role in the kingdom changes. Those who thought Ildiko’s kind and practical nature would prevent her from being a strong and firm leader learn differently. Brishen, who has had little use for his magic till this moment, embraces it when he realizes that it is all that stands between his people and destruction.
Ms. Draven has written an intense, thrilling fantasy which does an amazing job of showing that large events are really just thousands of personal stories told all at once. This intimate perspective works perfectly to highlight the love story of Brishen and Ildiko as it deepens and matures. I am happy to recommend Eidolon to fans of Radiance and to recommend the entire series to fans of fantasy romance.