This is the second book of a four-book fantasy series, sequel to A PRINCESS OF ROUMANIA which I read and reviewed last year. I still have mixed feelings, though I guess I have to say I enjoyed reading it. The characters are the main draw, though even there things get confusing, as two of them are cohabited by two distinct personalities. The narrative goes to lots of interesting places, and at times is quite exciting, but there are sections that lapse into a dreamlike state where it becomes hard to figure out what’s going on.
Miranda, the heroine, continues to be mainly a pawn of many opposing forces, but in this book is finally beginning to develop some power of her own, though exactly what it is is still unclear. Her two friends follow their own story, and it’s an interesting travel through an alternate lower Europe and Egypt. Andromeda, thankfully, gets much more to do in this book, and does it well. Peter’s second personality comes to the fore here, and the original Peter fades.
The two powerful and villainous magicians that keep trying to capture and control these three continue to follow their own stories, though Baroness Ceaucescu’s career has risen high, while the Elector of Ratisbon’s is fading. New characters acting for these two, and some helping the three friends, are introduced and developed.
The overall world, a very different version of Europe, continues to surprise. All kinds of elements seem to mix in this story, from nuclear bomb-making materials to Transylvanian vampires, and it all works, somehow. The titular Tourmaline, which seems so important at times, eventually is revealed as a possible fake. The three friends get into all kinds of dire trouble and somehow get out again.
I guess my biggest problem with the writing is that every time I feel I’m closing in on putting all the pieces together to see a bigger picture, everything changes again. Things are always transforming in a dreamlike way. Story elements that seem so important one moment are tossed away the next. If there is a plan, other than that Miranda is gradually learning about herself, I don’t see it. Even important elements of that are almost tossed in off-camera. Very odd. Yet, I do want to know more, and I already own the third book.
One thing I can say is that there’s nothing predictable about this series, and I do enjoy the characters. If you decide to give it a try, let me know what you think. Maybe I’m missing something!