Published: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Series: The Risen Kingdoms #2
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery is the masterful sequel to Curtis Craddock’s critically-acclaimed high fantasy An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, which continues the engrossing tale of courtly intrigue and breathtaking magic, and starring our fiercely intelligent heroine Isabelle des Zephyrs with her loyal musketeer Jean-Claude.
Isabelle des Zephyrs has always been underestimated throughout her life, but after discovering the well of hidden magic within her, unveiling a centuries-long conspiracy, and stopping a war between rival nations, she has gained a newfound respect amongst the cutthroat court.
All that is quickly taken away when Isabelle is unfairly convicted of breaking the treaty she helped write and has her political rank and status taken away. Now bereft, she nevertheless finds herself drawn into mystery when her faithful musketeer Jean-Claude uncovers a series of gruesome murders by someone calling themselves the Harvest King.
As panic swells, the capital descends into chaos, when the emperor is usurped from the throne by a rival noble. Betrayed by their allies and hunted by assassins, Isabelle and Jean-Claude alone must thwart the coup, but not before it changes l’Empire forever.
Curtis Craddock’s debut novel An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors was an utterly stunning favorite of 2018, filled with magic and mystery. A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery was no less stunning and filled me with equal delight! Also you can see with your own eyes how lovely the cover art for both books are, so this series is practically everything I could want.
Isabelle has always struck me as clever and fairly sensible, so when she basically insta-crushed on one of le Roi’s guards I was kind of delighted. She never stopped being the clever, resourceful girl she’s shown herself to be and this added another layer to a character I already found likeable. The introduction of le Roi’s the mistresses, known collectively as the Trefoil, was another delight. Each is in charge of her own little domain of the government – spying, scheduling, managing etc. and are intimidating women in each their own ways. Funnily enough, Jean Claude’s relationships with each of them make the whole situation even more interesting and helps to illuminate his less than perfect past. Who would have thought he was such a ladies man in his youth? There are a handful of other new and troublesome characters introduced here, but I don’t want to go into detail because it would spoil things.
There are a few major plot threads (I hesitate to claim one as the main since they’re intertwined) all of which kept me turning pages late into the night. First of all, le Roi’s disinherited son has appeared in the capital after a lengthy absence and he’s stirred up trouble and *gasp* talk of reform. Simultaneously, there are people displaying signs of magic that didn’t previously which should NOT be possible… and it’s being stripped from some that do have magic. It’s all quite the scandal and the city is in an uproar – no surprise really, since the presence of a bloodshadow or other magic grants nobility and power.
Overall, this was another excellent read on par with the quality of the first book and possibly with even more courtly intrigue! This is definitely turning out to be one of my favorite fantasy series and it just doesn’t get the hype that many less deserving books do. If you’re looking for a strong female protagonist and a lovable cast of characters you may just want to check The Risen Kingdoms series out before you’re late to the fun!