emperor's bone palace coverRatings: 4.5 stars
Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

The Emperor’s Bone Palace is the second book in Hailey Turner’s Infernal Wars Saga. The trilogy reads as one long story and this second book follows immediately upon the ending of the first. The books must be read in order and this review will spoil events from book one, The Prince’s Poisoned Vow. This is an amazing series, so we definitely suggest checking it out and starting with the first book. 

In the aftermath of their escape from Ashion, Blake, Honovi, and Caris are on the run and trying to regroup. They manage to reconnect with the Clockwork Brigade, but it is clear that they have an uphill battle. Eimarille is continuing her disinformation campaign, portraying the rebels as the cause of the attack on the city and setting public opinion against them. When Nathaniel makes his way back to the group, Caris can’t help but be thrilled. But with Nathaniel no longer himself, the man they think is an ally may be putting them all in danger.

In Solaria, Vanya is facing increasing threats to both his position as emperor and his life. Joelle has allied with Eimarille, providing her power and resources that give her the opportunity to challenge Vanya. When Joelle calls for a conclave among the Houses, it will take all of Vanya’s political skill and every ally he can find to withstand her attempt to see her House rise to power instead. But little does Vanya know the lengths that Joelle is willing to go to get what she wants.

Eimarille has gained more power than anyone has even realized, beginning to spread her armies into the east. With the ability to turn anyone into a puppet with a clockwork heart, or rionetka, she can filtrate the tightest circles and it is hard for anyone to know who they can trust. It seems impossible to defeat Eimarille’s armies and her weapons, especially when she seems not to care who is harmed in her quest to take over Maricol. But despite the danger, those fighting against Eimarille’s evil will not give in easily. And while it seems Eimarille has spies everywhere, they have a few secrets left that just may see them stand a fighting chance against the Daijalian threats.

 

Jay’s Review

I absolutely adored the first book in this series, The Prince’s Poisoned Vow, and so I was thrilled for a chance to step back into the world of Maricol once again. Here we pick up in the aftermath of the first book and see everyone trying to regroup. The characters sort of coalesce into two camps here. First, we have Caris, Honovi, and Blaine who are finding their way back to the Clockwork Brigade and end up in fighting all sorts of trouble. I continue to love Honovi and Blaine together and enjoy seeing them reunited after so much separation in the first book. There are some intense scenes for them and the love they have for each other really shines through. Caris also begins to come into her own here, being put into role of leader for her royal blood, even as she is not sure she wants that position. There is a nice sense of inner conflict here for a girl who just wanted to grow up to be an engineer and now suddenly finds herself the face of the resistance. There are some surprises for this group, so I won’t get into too much detail, but I enjoyed following along with the excitement and watching these characters come into their own.

The other main storyline focuses on Soren and Vanya and the goings on in Solaria. This part of the plot leans more heavily into the political, as the Houses are into all sorts of maneuvering and scheming. I love the way that Soren has become so important to Vanya, someone he trusts with his daughter and his life. But things are complicated for them, especially as Soren has secrets about himself and his past. We get a huge, epic, and terrifying battle here that is so wonderfully drawn and some exciting moments as Vanya must deal with spies and all sorts of threats to both his position and his life and that of his daughter. I did find this part of the plot to be a little on the slower side with a lot of focus on the politics versus the action. This is a very long book and a lot of the first half seemed focused on the Solarian political maneuverings, which I think slowed it down a little. But things do pick up with a lot of intensity and action as the story develops.

We actually seem to see Eimarille less here than in the first book, but she is this constant simmering threat and we start to see the puzzle pieces that were set up in the first story coming into play here. Her end goal starts to become more clear and things get intense and exciting. One of the things Hailey Turner is just so good at is writing epic battle scenes and we get two major ones here. Turner just has a way with choreographing the action that allows for these huge and thrilling fight scenes with multiple elements in play, but that still are easy to follow.

I am such a fan of this series and I loved the chance to reconnect with the characters. I think Turner does a nice job balancing the real threats and danger they all face with giving them enough wins to feel like there is hope. But we do end the story once again with a lot on the line and there is a long way to go before they will see victory. I am so excited to follow along as this one concludes and can definitely recommend this series to anyone looking for a detailed, well-developed fantasy story.

 

Kris’ Review

This second installment in the Infernal War Saga is the perfect middle point to the story telling. Whereas the first book laid the groundwork, putting all the pieces into motion and setting the stage, The Emperor’s Bone Palace takes the intrigue, machinations, drama, and action to the next level. It is a bridge between the beginning and the end, the story progressing in all the right ways, and leaving the reader on a cliff that sets the stage for the final showdown and the conclusion of this epic story.

The world building is immense and complex, epic fantasy mixed with magic and steampunk. The MCs carry this story throughout with each playing a specific role. Subjectively, I have my favorite characters and, as such, am more invested in their storylines. They do not escape unscathed through the machinations attempting not only bring down the Vanya, the emperor, but to change the very landscape of Maricol and who rules the land. I was continually struck by the moving pieces and how the author kept the characters, and therefore the reader, on their toes.

Turner set the stage in the first book where secrets had no choice but to unravel as the story continued. And unravel they do. Not only for Vanya, who is faced with uncovering traitors everywhere he turns, but for Soren, whose past has always been a mystery, even to himself, and Caris who needs to step into her own. All while trying to fight the forces out of Daijal, and a Queen hellbent on ruling it all. With more revenants stalking the world than ever before, and worse, the rionetka infiltrating every corner, no one is safe and very few can be trusted. This book is a ride from start to finish.

There is not a clear black and white, good and evil thing going on in this book, though some characters clearly lean more toward one side or the other. This book is told in multiple POVs, and with each, we get insight to certain character’s motivations. I think the author did an exceptional job with highlighting those motivations and allowing the reader to really understand where everyone was coming from. This is not an easy task, especially given the fraught tension winding through the book. And one thing is clear: no one is safe from heartbreak and injury. And the twists this story takes are both necessary and sometimes surprising.

Though I was glued to the page, this story is not without it’s flaws for me. At over 600 pages, it is an epic undertaking. And while I can understand the need for much of the information, I also felt the story could have benefited from some tightening of the narrative. To be sure, it wouldn’t have shortened the length a considerable amount. But there were times when the pace was a bit lagging for me, as well as repetitive information relayed that could have been skipped. Many of the characters made decisions based on what they felt was correct and right, but as a reader, we knew that was going to lead them into the path of danger or trouble. For me, this worked against the story, as I would rather have not known they were going to face danger ahead of time. I would go so far as to say it lessened the impact for me.

But overall, this story is the epitome of a middle point. It’s taken all the information we learned at the beginning, moved the story forward, and set up the ending. I have no doubt that it too will be a long, epic journey. But at the same time, I have complete faith that the ending will be satisfying because of it.

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