Relics of Ruin

Orbit. (Books of the Usurper, Bk. 2). Apr. 2024. 448p. ISBN 9780316441049. pap. $19.99. FANTASY
This strong sequel to Empire of Exiles picks up shortly after the events of that book’s tumultuous ending and follows the same cast of characters. Quill is learning to navigate his new job at the Archives when he and Richa stumble upon another murder, which ultimately leads them to discover the bones of a saint. Baffled that a relic could disappear from the Archives without them knowing of it, they turn to Amadea for help. Matters are further complicated when they realize that Tunuk, their brooding bone specialist, is clearly hiding something. This is as much an epic fantasy novel as it is an intricately plotted, multilayered murder mystery, and the intrigue reads like a delicate dance between all the characters. They are a sympathetic group of people whose pasts are determined to come back to haunt them, upping the stakes as they pick apart a grand puzzle that jeopardizes the safety of the empire.
VERDICT The strengths of the first book continue in the second of Evans’s “Books of the Usurper” series, with sophisticated prose, a richly detailed world, a clandestine and conspiratorial atmosphere, and fascinating elemental magic. Great for fans of Richard Swan.
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