There is an old theatrical maxim that watching a person try not to cry is far more moving than watching someone in tears. It is the same with “Lament of the Fallen,” the second book in “The Last Bucelarii” series. In the first book, there was far too much violence for no good reason. Killing for the sake of killing. Killing as the only solution to every problem.
But in the new book, the Hunter himself has become disgusted with all the violence. He has decided that killing is wrong, and for the length of the new book he struggles not to kill. Of course, given his nature and history and the violent land he inhabits, this is impossible, so there is a great deal of violence and death. But his determination not to kill brings a great difference. Each death matters, even if it only demonstrates the hero’s difficulty in his struggle to act in a moral fashion.
The complexity of the Hunter’s personality blossoms in this book. He has always seen himself as a loner, as all assassins must be. But he discovered at the end of the last story that he really needs people. The double fear – that his friends are a danger to him, but he is much more a danger to them – lays another layer of suspense on the external violence and internal struggle of the novel.
He strives for independence from his evil Sword, from the murderous demon half of his soul, and from the rulers of the land who all strive to control him to their evil benefit. This story has all the agony of an alcoholic trying to beat his cravings in a world filled with heavy drinkers.
As with the rest of the series, all the settings and deeds are described in beautiful (and horrible) detail of sight, sound, and odour. Secondary characters are more rounded and individual than before, because they matter to the main character. Especially wonderful is Bardin, the beggar/scholar/madman, where Peloquin achieves the difficult task of creating an insane character who acts according to expectations. Well, in the sense of a complete lack of sense.
You probably should read the first book in the series to set yourself up for this one, and I now recommend that you do. It will be worth it, because it sets the scene so well for the second book. Highly recommended for fans of great characterization who are not put off by extreme violence and gore.(5 / 5)