A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery


Curtis Craddock


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

November 26, 2019

sabelle is back, along with her devoted guardian, the indomitable King's musketeer, Jean-Claude. Again they are embroiled in intrigue and treachery, and the fate of kingdom rests upon their deeds. Craddock spins another creative tale of magic and adventure in A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery. As in the previous novel, the story telling is fast paced, the plot has many complicated threads, and there are numerous characters pursuing their own goals. There is a lot to like here.

Book one of the Risen Kingdoms trilogy, An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, had exciting and clever magic, but in this volume, Craddock stirs up a whole new batch of sorcery. In addition to Isabelle now having some magical talent of her own (though she doesn't have mastery of that talent yet), Craddock introduces us to Seelenjägers, which are shapeshifters - they can assume the form of different animals. Capitaine Bitterlich, assigned to be Isabelle's bodyguard in recognition of her newfound status, can turn into a leopard or a bird. The reader also learns of the Fenice, bird-like creatures who possess the memories of their ancestors. There are powerful illusion-casters. There are powerful relics left over from ancient times. There is a mysterious disease attack the bloodshadows of the figures in King Leon's court - and without a bloodshadow, the king cannot rule.

Isabelle starts the novel as an ambassador, in recognition for her deeds described in the first book. But soon she is in a position where, in the name of humanity, she acts to save a "clayborn". Her enemies pounce, and the always-scheming King strips Isabelle of her position and power. Isabelle is now hunted by enemies, she is the target of assassination attempts.

The musketeer Jean-Claude starts the novel in a bar, and is witness to an incredible sight - a massacre of innocents by magic that has run amok. Soon Jean-Claude is following leads for a mysterious figure called the Harvest King. Are there gruesome experiments going on in areas of forbidden sorcery? Oh yes, there is also a shadowy figure known as the Bone Queen. There is a lot going on in this novel!

Despite all the magic, it doesn't overwhelm the story. The feels like it belongs in the world Craddock has created, it doesn't feel like it was just bolted onto the novel to solve a plot point or a deus ex machina trick. The characters of Isabelle and Jean-Claude carry the narrative; they remain true to their innately-decent selves, seeking justice in a cut-throat world of intrigue and surprise. This is a fun novel, (though it got kind of convoluted with so many plot threads and characters, which is why I "only" awarded it four stars) and I will definitely look for the final book of the trilogy whenever it gets published.