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Published by 47NORTH

Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Erik Bear,

Joseph Brassey, E.D. deBirmingham & Cooper Moo

Having been left at the end of Book One on the precipice of an exciting combat as the adventurers searched the stone walled  underground passages, open areas and burial chambers of the Monastery,
I immediately reached for the second book; only to find it did not continue where the first book had agonisingly concluded.

After the tense anticipation of the build up I was deflated and from the start it felt like I was reading a completely different book, not the second volume in a trilogy that had more than whetted my appetite
for more of the same.

The continuation of the underground search and the combat that takes place in the dark and winding passages doesn’t appear until some 80 pages in and then it speedily concludes before it regains the
momentum and interest of its preceding cliff-hanger.

BOOK TWO is a long slow read. The adventurers have split up or have been split up and the authors have introduced a fair number of new characters which rather than embody the story bog it down
as you juggle and struggle with a Mongolian version of Who’s Who ?  One of the problems of introducing so many new characters is that they distract the reader, in this case me, from the original characters
to whom I was just beginning to affect an affinity. With the addition of these new faces the problems and importance of the main characters from Book One diminish as new scenarios, locations and troubles
unfurl. Much of this book is centred around the City of Rome and it’s politics.

Although the book is fiction, it uses a fair amount of historical actuality, embellishing or detracting as and when necessary. As this period in Europe was both high in fear over Religion and Politics the Mongoliad
delves deep, too deep in my opinion, into the machinations of this Machiavellan society. I found it a hard read in comparison to the first book, not that Book One could be classified as light reading, with the
threads of each different tale forever being broken as chapter after chapter randomly alternated between the new main storylines.

In parallel to reality (at the time of writing this review) we find a group of Cardinals gathered together, supposedly imprisoned in the Septizonium, to decide the next Pope, the current one having just gone to meet
his maker, possibly with some little help. Amongst these Cardinals is an ArchBishop who should not be there, having arrived with the aid of a young couple through a secret entrance that it appears (as you read on)
that almost everyone (except for most of the doddery old Cardinals) knows about. It is through this secret door that the Cardinal in cahoots with the Senator Orsini flits in and out unnoticed to keep his clandestine
meetings – just where the other cardinals think he keeps disappearing to is not examined closely.

To ensure the vote goes the way Orsini wants it his pet Cardinal has no qualms about taking the life of the most outspoken of those involved in the voting; again, no one seems to notice he is missing.

Matteo Rosso Orisin, also known as the Bear, had been named by Pope Gregory as the Senator of the City of Rome, thus allowing him to run the City. It was Orsini that ordered the Cardinals locked up so that
they could not be influenced by outside sources.

Book One left very few loose ends because it mainly followed a single storyline and where there were splits there were also resolved or at least partially answered questions. Book Two ends with a myriad of unanswered
questions and more loose ends than are memorable. This of course does what the authors want, and that is frustrate the reader and entice them into reading Book Three or walking away with a head full of unfinished adventures.

Using the comparison from my review of Book One, Book Two of the Lord of the Rings was a heavier read than the previous or following volume and thus Tolkien’s tales still continue to have some, if only minor, similarity
with the Mongoliad trilogy.

BOOK THREE is now available. My review will follow in due course…….

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015