Monday, November 21, 2022

The Second Blind Son - Review

The Second Blind Son (Chronicles of Saylok # 2)

By: Amy Harmon

Publication: July 20th 2021 by 47North

448 pages

Genre: Adult, Fantasy

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Goodreads description--An insidious curse is weakening the Norse kingdom of Saylok, where no daughters have been born in years. Washing up on these plagued shores is Ghisla, an orphaned stowaway nursed back to health by a blind cave dweller. Named for a mysterious god, the boy, Hod, is surrounded by prophecy. To Ghisla, he’s a cherished new friend. To Hod, the girl is even more so. For when Ghisla sings, Hod can see.

Unable to offer safe shelter, Hod urges Ghisla onward to become a daughter of the temple, where all the kingdom’s girl children have been gathered. But because of a magical rune, the two cannot be separated, no matter the time or the distance.

Now, subject to a ruthless king, Ghisla enters a desperate world of warring clan chieftains and catastrophic power struggles. Who among them can be trusted is unknowable. So are the sacrifices Ghisla and Hod must make to defeat the cursed forces that could destroy a kingdom and the fated bond between two souls.

A lost girl and a blind boy discover their greatest strength is their bond with each other in a beguiling fantasy by the New York Times bestselling author of The First Girl Child.

Amy Harmon has written multiple books that I've rated 5 Stars. She is an author that I almost always want to read. Her characters are always deep and full of life. And her stories are beautiful, each in their own way. One thing I've noticed about her books is that the pacing isn't always the best for me. Her stories always seem to get me invested, but they aren't always quick to do so. And that doesn't make her pacing bad. Because most of the time, I end up thinking they're nearly perfectly done. The problem lies with me. I've struggled to find the amount of time to read that I would like to have. And so I often gravitate toward books that will hook me early and not let me go. The Second Blind Son did have a slow start for me. And I actually put it down more than once in favor of reading something else. I believe after 30% or so I felt invested enough not to want to put it down in favor of anything else.

The Second Blind Son overlaps in time with The First Girl Child for most of the book. Some events even get repeated, simply from a different perspective.

Hod is the older half brother of Bayr from The First Girl Child. Hod's mother is sick and dying and comes to the Keeper's Temple to receive a blessing for her son. Master Ivo does bless him and sends him to the Cave Keeper, Arwin, to learn and to wait. Hod has rune blood, and Arwin trains him to use his other senses to be able to defend himself and more. Arwin and thus Hod believe his path is to one day also become a keeper. But that changes for Hod when Ghisla washes up on his shore.

Ghisla is a Songr. Her home was plagued and she was essentially the only one to survive. She got on a boat, but was swept overboard during a storm. Ghisla also has rune blood and her songs bring sight to Hod. Not sight like his eyes suddenly work, but when she sings he can see what she's describing, sometimes her memories, sometimes just whatever she sees. The two form a pretty quick connection to one another. Each is the other's only friend.

Like Bayr and Alba from book 1, Ghisla and Hod spend most of the book separated. There are years that go by without them even seeing each other. This makes the story feel like it's dragging a little, yet it also makes the events feel more real, more desperate. The distance between the characters brings life to the pages.

Favorite quotes:

-The moment an exception was made, the rule ceased to exist.

-"Arwin says the pain will become strength if we embrace it," he said.

-"There is no liar as skilled as pain. Pain will say anything to save itself."

-She did not want to do great things. She wanted a place to lay her head and a family to love her. She wanted a friend and a fire and a song that would make the ache go away.

-It looked like fear and fondness, an odd combination. Mayhaps it was fear of fondness....

-And yet she kept on singing, and he kept on listening, doing his best to shoulder her sorrow and speak relief to her soul.

The Second Blind Son gets 4 Stars from me. It had a slower start than I prefer, but that was necessary to establish the characters and their backgrounds enough to allow the story to flow as it should. Once I got to about 30%, I was hooked. And Amy Harmon always finds a way to make her stories beautiful. I look forward to more. I hope it will be Elayne and Aidyn. Have you read The Second Blind Son? What did you think? Let me know!

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