Title: The Secret of Ashona
Author: Kaza Kingsley
Erec has hardly had a chance to recover from his last quest when life starts getting crazy again. Unsurprisingly, it seems the Furies still have his soul, and those without souls are claimed by Tarvos of the Underworld for his golem army. And getting his soul back will be no easy matter, for his is one of the three thousand souls keeping the Furies out of Tartarus . . .
After such an incredible ride last book, I found myself putting this one down several times out of sheer frustration. Erec has done so much for the Furies, and at such personal cost, that he’s the only one they’ll even talk to without destroying—and he spends most of the book trying to plot out a way to put them back into the prison he died to get them out of. It wasn’t a lot of fun watching him scheme to take advantage of their trust in him. It is, frankly, rather unbelievable they take everything as well as they do, considering.
It was also rather galling how easily Erec decides to drop virtue in favor of being evil just because a quest seems to demand it. This is partially evident with Baskania, and more clear when Erec decides to do a few dastardly deeds to ride a horse that will only let evil people mount, if that’s what it will take to get a ride.
Thankfully, things do turn around. And there were definitely highlights. Erec manages to die (again) and have all sorts of adventures as a ghost. And there is a certain twisted charm to watching his caper with Baskania, and how the two of them scheme in close quarters. Rosco’s lucky he never made it to the Underworld, though, or Baskania would’ve definitely known what’s up.
The stakes jumped a lot in this book, too, so it will be interesting to see where the series goes from here. Baskania seems poised to take over most of the world, and if he chooses to leave the Otherness for later, could easily do it in short order. Erec gets an insider’s view on much of Baskania’s operations, which makes his eventual kingship look rather hopeless, even if the Amulet of Virtues and his scepter will give him a lot of power. It’s one thing to reverse Baskania’s deliberate brainwashing, but at this point the kingdom he’s going to rule doesn’t like him at all.
For fans of the series, this is a definite read; for newcomers, do yourself a favor and start at the beginning. But I do hope the next book doesn’t feel like Erec again regressed all the character development he’d gained at such cost in The Three Furies. I rate this book Recommended.