“The Spirit Mage,” The Blackwood Saga #2 by Layton Green

The Book 2 story starts exactly where Book 1 ends, always an iffy proposition for the writer, because he then has to explain everything in detail so we can return to the situation in the other book. Which Mr. Green proceeds to do, in far more detail than we have hope of remembering. For example, we are introduced to at least eight characters from the last book that we will never see in this one, because most of them are dead.
Complicating the situation is the plotline, or should I say plotlines, because this story involves three different parties trying to find each other on an alternate earth.
The advantage to this scenario is that the story moves even farther away from the video game style, and is much more like normal Action-Adventure Fantasy. The difficulty is that the characters, removed from each other, lose the inter-character conflicts that were so entertaining in the first book. Only Caleb and Will stay together, which helps. They are travelling with Jasmine, one of Caleb’s many former lovers, which adds to the mix. Will is alone, and we are also following Mala, although her purpose is not obvious. All she is trying to do is survive, and since she is a mercenary, her attempts never cease to be interesting.
As the book progresses the extraneous details fall away, the plots slim down, the action becomes more intense and the whole novel takes off. By the finish, I was fully enthralled again, just as I was with Book 1.
Unfortunately, the start of this book does not have the same clarity. Recommended for those who loved the first book. Push through; you won’t be sorry. And there has to be a Book 3!
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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