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Darkening Skies: The Hadrumal Crisis Book 2 Mass Market Paperback – February 28, 2012
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About the Author
Juliet E. McKenna is the renowned author of The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution, The Tales of Einarinn series and The Aldabreshin Compass series. A mother and Black Belt in Aikido, she lives in Oxford, England.
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Jilseth used her necromantic talents to observe the last moments of the trooper. He had been a Halferan guard killed in an ambush by corsairs from the Aldabreshin islands. Minelas had betrayed Baron Halferan.
Unknown to Jilseth, Minelas was within the Halferan Barony. He forged a document giving him authority over that domain and gained permission from the Caladhrian Parliament to rule the barony. Zurenne was following his orders because of the legal situation.
In this novel, Plantir the Black is the Archmage of Hadrumal and is also the Stone Master. Although he wears humble clothing, his magical skills are superior to all other wizards. He is also quite old.
Jilseth is an Earth Mistress of Hadrumal and also a necromancer. She works closely with the archmage and is part of a nexus -- including Rafrid, Sannin and Herion -- that performs quintessential magic using all four elements.
Rafrid is the Cloud Master of Hadrumal. He is part of Jilseth's nexus.
Sannin is a Fire Mage of Hadrumal. She is part of Jilseth's nexus.
Herion is a Water Mage of Hadrumal. He is part of Jilseth's nexus.
Kalion is the Hearth Master of Hadrumal. He is an idealist and doesn't understand human nature. He opposes Plantir on many issues. Kalion is the leader of a nexus including Ely, Canfor and Nolyen.
Tornauld is a Stone Mage. He is also a student of architecture.
Minelas was a rogue apprentice magician of Hadrumal. He was killed during the Lescari Revolution after taking over the Halferan Barony.
Corrain is a guardsman of the Halferan Barony. He had been Captain of the Guards before being caught with another man's wife. Now Zurenne has married him to Ilysh and madee him the de facto Baron of Halferan.
Hosh is a young guardsman of the Halferan Barony. He has little experience at soldiering.
Kusint is a young man of the Great Forest. He had soldiered under Captain General Evord Fal during the Lescari Revolution.
Zurenne is the consort of Baron Halferan of Caladhria. She has two female children, Ilysh and Esnina.
Licanin is a Baron and Zurenne's brother-in-law. He had driven away Minelas's men and settled some of his servants at Halferan to assist Zurenne.
Karpis is Baron of a neighboring estate. He had conspired with Minelas to steal Halferan.
Anskal is a Mandarkin mage. He had defeated the Corsairs at Halferan and then transitted to the Black Turtle Isle to kill even more of them. Then he raised a great wave and left it blocking the bay.
In this story, Corrain is standing in a high hall in Ferl. The barons of Caladhria are meeting out of season to consider the Corsair raids up the rivers at Halferan and Dyal. They have also come to confirm another Baron of Halferan.
Some barons -- including Baron Karpis -- are his enemies. Most have no interest in Halferan. Karpis has his men start a fight with Halferan guards to discredit Corrain. But the parliament confirms his title despite Karpis' efforts.
Zurenne and her girls are impatiently waiting back at Halferan Barony. Yet they have much work to do to clean up and rebuild the mansion and house. So Zurenne is supervising the efforts at the residence.
Then Ilysh shows up at the mansion. She asserts that she is the Lady of the holding and should help with the repairs. Zurenne agrees that she is the Lady, but she is also a minor. In any case, she lets her stay and gives her things to do.
Plantir and the mages are watching everything through their scry bowls. Jilseth finds a way to locate the Corsair ships and they also observe them around the island. In addition, the mages are trying to watch the barons and the wizards in Solura.
Hadrumal needs to learn more about Anskal and the Mandarkin mages. He seems to use at least three elemental types of magic. But Solura is at the limit of their scrying and the wizards are blocking their attempts and failing to respond to queries about the Mandarkin.
Although Corrain hates and despise the Hadrumal mages, he needs their help to complete repairs at the residence. Plantir agrees to send Tornauld to help with the repairs. In return, he wants Corrain to go to Solura and apologize for his misdeeds. If they are agreeable, he also wants to learn more about the Mandarkins from their chief enemy.
Meanwhile, Jilseth is trying to regain the powers that she so exhausted during the Corsair raid. Plantir sends her to Halferan and to Relshaz to learn more about the Aldabreshins. She is there when the Corsairs freed by Anskal reach the port.
This tale also follows Hosh as he deals with his slavery to Anskal's powers. Corrain also apologizes to Kusint and gains his assistance. The Hadrumal mages gain another nexus.
Plantir avoids confronting Anskal until he is ready. The next installment in this sequence is Defiant Peaks.
Highly recommended for McKenna fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of various magics, cultural conflicts, and mage politics. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin