HEAVEN'S NEEDLE, the follow-up to Liane Merciel's first book
in the world of Ithelas, The River Kings' Road, is
stronger albeit darker. While some of the characters
including Kelland, the Sun Knight and his companion Bitharn,
also appear in the second installment, others are replaced
which works well as the story of Brys and Odosse was
complete. There should be more of Brys' story hopefully in a
later novel though. Where the River Kings' Road hinted at
the evil in Ithelas, HEAVEN'S NEEDLE takes us right into its
The fortress of Duradh Mal has been abandoned for hundreds
of years but still evil lurks and has been reawakened.
Asharre, a warrior from the far north with a troubled soul,
accompanies two young illuminers—who serve the Bright Lady
and all things good and blessed, to their first mission in
the village of Carden Vale below Duradh Mal. But they aren't
the only ones headed in that direction: Kelland and Bitharn
also seek to rid the fortress of evil and with an unlikely
partner, a Thornlord called Malentir. As Bitharn and Kelland
serve the Bright Lady, Malentir serves Kliasta or the Pale
Maiden who thrives on darkness and pain. The mad god, Maol,
also plays a role here.
There are a number of victims here and a lot of food for
thought. The horrors include not only what people and things
do to each other but also to themselves. We're all faced
with choices, and we all have principles to whatever degree,
but those principles can be chipped away in small bits if
one isn't careful. Some of the horrors in this story are
stomach-turning and horrifying, and while you might put the
book down for a bit, you'll be unable to not pick it up
again. Merciel's talent for bringing the ghastly and creepy
alive is disturbingly realistic. I never had nightmares or
anything, but I had little problem with visualization. I
have to say, I enjoyed the first book, but I really enjoyed
the second one. I hope Merciel has plans for more stories in
this world as there seems to be lots of opportunity, and
these two books seem to be building up to a larger battle.
Six hundred years ago, an unknown force destroyed one of the
greatest fortresses in Ithelas, slaughtering its defenders
so swiftly that none survived to say what befell them.
Unaware of the danger among those ancient ruins, two
inexperienced Illuminers set out for the village of Carden
Vale, at foot of Duradh Mal, to minister to the people. The
warrior Asharre, her face scarred by loss, is assigned to
protect the young clerics. But in Carden Vale they find
unspeakable horrors--the first hint of a terrifying ghost
story come true.
The Sun Knight Kelland has been set free by the woman he
loves, the archer Bitharn, but at the cost of undertaking a
mission only he can fulfill. Joined by a Thornlord steeped
in the magic of pain, they too make their way to Duradh Mal.
There lies the truth behind the rumors of the dead come back
to life, flesh ripped from bones, and creatures destroying
themselves in a violent frenzy.
And if Kelland cannot contain the black magic that has been
unleashed after six hundred years, an entire world will fall
victim to a Mad God\\\'s malevolent plague...