Erec Rex should be enjoying a relatively trouble-free vacation back with his family. After being involved in several death-defying quests on the path to becoming king, he could use some downtime. But he has nothing to do, and he misses his friends. Especially Bethany. Even if he hasn’t figured out if their relationship is still just friends or if it might now be heading for more.
Then Bethany is taken by Baskania. Now Erec is scrambling to complete his next quest, rescue Bethany, and avoid getting both of them killed by Baskania. His journey takes him from deep into the Nightmare King’s realm to Baskania’s most heavily-guarded fortress, and he’s got a deadline: Baskania is trying to deal with the three Furies, but if he releases them at all the whole world will be destroyed, one way or another.
I loved so many things about this book. I liked how Erec is able to see the future, but is coming to understand that what he sees doesn’t always mean what he assumes it will. I liked that Erec’s dragon-shapeshifting is continuing to progress, to the point where he now gets wings as well as his scales, claws, tail, and fiery breath. And that he finally starts to wonder if his brother and sister might really be his brother and sister, the missing two triplets (and how that is resolved is very interesting indeed).
Going deeper, I loved how Erec has to fight against everything in him that naturally wants to do the sane/safe thing rather than the necessary thing. His parents and friends naturally want to protect him, and he couldn’t succeed without their help, but he has to balance his responsibilities with his wants. I thought the first quest, which portrays this at length, did it well, but the second was spectacular. Erec trusts the Fates enough to do the quests they’re assigning him, and he’s smart enough to think through why they’re asking him to deal with these things and what will happen if he does nothing.
I also want to give a shout out for June, Erec’s adoptive mom. She’s never the focus of attention, but her role in various conspiracies is gradually coming clearer, and I can’t help but admire her. She’s taken on more danger than Erec suspects, and given what we learned this book I do wonder what the rest of her secrets might be.
This is a bit of a doorstopper, but once I started reading, I never noticed the length (except to get to bed far too late because I was too invested in finishing). It will greatly help to read the rest of the series before this book, as returning characters that show up later in the book only get a minimal introduction. I rate this book Highly Recommended.