Ruin of Stars by Linsey Miller
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
The thrilling conclusion to the Mask of Shadows duology that weaves a tale of magic, shadows, and most importantly, revenge.
As one of the Queen’s elite assassins, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and permission to hunt down the lords who killed their family. But Sal still has to figure out who the culprits are. They must enlist the help of some old friends and enemies while ignoring a growing distaste for the queen and that the charming Elise is being held prisoner by her father.
But there’s something terribly wrong in the north. Talk of the return of shadows, missing children, and magic abounds. As Sal takes out the people responsible for their ruined homeland, Sal learns secrets and truths that can’t be forgotten.
ARC received from Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley for an honest review.
I really enjoyed the first book in this duology, and this one did not disappoint either, although I liked it slightly less than the first one. You can see my review of the first book here. The politics got way complicated and started to detract from my enjoyment of the book. I think if I had reread the first book before this one I might have enjoyed it more as some of the background and how the world was laid out would have been a little fresher in my mind. There was very little in the way of reminders of what happened in the first book and who people were, that also added to the confusion.
The story picks up a few months after the first book ended. Sal has recovered and is hell bent on revenge. Sal spends much of the book on the road hunting down all of the Erland Lords who took part in destroying their country and culture. Sal meets others from their homeland in this book, which gave some insight into Nacea’s culture. Sal learns more about what it might have been like to grow up with a family immersed in their culture. Sal’s character doesn’t develop as much in this book, except for maybe learning that even when you trust someone they can still betray you. Sal’s relationship with Elise goes through some growing pains, but they are still good together. Sal’s being gender fluid was not as prominent in this story as it was in the first one, there was not as much emphasis on clothes and which way Sal was feeling.
Maud, Sal’s servant/friend, was not in this book as much as I would have liked. She is still one of my favorite characters, even when I thought she might really be betraying Sal. Her wit and banter with Sal and others is a wonderful and a much needed comic relief in such a dark story.
The one thing I really struggled with in this book was the politics and the way the world was structured. I got that Erland was very male centric and could only view people as either male or female, but the other countries were all sort of jumbled together and were hard to keep straight. Many of the secondary characters were also muddled, they were not fleshed out well and sort of all came under the heading of evil and not much else. Their names kept confusing me as well. There were also some new characters and concepts introduced that added to the general confusion of what was really going on.
The whole magical system was the good part of this story, but could have used a little more clarification on how it worked. I liked how it was intricate to the whole ending of the story though.
This was a good story and good conclusion to the duology. It could have been better with a little more clarity of the world and some of the characters. If I had read the first book again I might not have felt so confused, but I think there still would be some of that. The world the author created was elaborate and therefore needed more explanations than what we got.