It took me about five minutes after having finished reading The Bard’s Blade to open it’s sequel, A Chorus of Fire, up and plunge back into this captivating story. I won’t venture into spoilers territory here, but if you want to know absolutely nothing about what happens in the first book, you may want to skip to the last paragraph of this review.
In this second book of the trilogy, we continue following Lem and Mariyah on their quest to find each other and survive the new world they have been forced to live into. They each have gone down their own individual shadowy paths. In order to survive, Lem has become something dark and cold. He does what needs to be done to stay alive and find his love. Whatever it takes. On her side of the continent, Mariyah has learned she has some rare talents that can bring both good, and evil to the world. She is stronger, smarter, and will use every political tool and magical gifts she has access to to achieve her goals. However, the more she learns about the dangers of the world, of the evil that may be making it’s way back into it, the more she is torn between finding Lem and doing what is right.
I really enjoyed how the author developed the lore of the world even more in this second volume. Sorcerers and Bards have a secret, buried history that we slowly uncover, revealing terrible truths that will bring heavy consequences. Magical blades that kill with a touch, musical melodies more powerful than an army of warriors and magic as beautiful as it is terrifying, there is no shortage of fantasy goodness. Of course nothing drives the story more than our two protagonists’s powerful love for each other and their desire to reunite. But now there are other elements and new people wedging themselves between Lem and Mariyah, which kept me even more invested in their relationship. Could one of them start doubting their feelings for the other? That is a reality I was not ready to deal with or accept, but that would build tension throughout the book up until the very end.
As far as second books in a planned trilogy goes, it rarely gets better than Chorus of Fire. Everything I liked in the first book is built upon and made even more spectacular. The characters feel more fleshed out and the stakes have never been higher. So far this series has felt like a breath of fresh air between heavier reads. It’s themes of music, love, hidden darkness and redemption are weaved together to form a literary melody that’s absolutely delightful to experience.