It was the cover art, truly it was. A great example of how to sell a book with great cover art. And I could just stop there…
This is a fantasy story that really rambles all over the map. Captain Kate is a privateer in the pay of the country of Freya. She and her companion dragon, Dahlgren, mostly make their living in salvage. They exist in a universe with strange physics something they call the “Breath of God”. It’s a rambling worldbuilding but I gather that all the land masses simply float in the ether. Navigation is described as sailing their ships or dragons around, over and underneath land masses. It’s odd and could have been a good thing but as a reader I was left rather clueless as to how it all works. One assumes that the previous trilogy covered all that but the authors should have given more background for new readers of this trilogy. The prologue was actually pretty useless as all that information could have been worked into the body of the story; it could have been used to better effect by giving more background from the first trilogy.
The Spymaster of the title is Sir Henry Wallace who engages Kate to find a young man who may have a claim to the throne of Freya. But despite the title, this book is not about Sir Henry; it is, most definitely about Kate and I think the title should have reflected that. There’s also a little dragon culture thrown in which also rambles quite a bit. The plot seems to have trouble deciding the real mission for Kate: is it to find the young heir to the throne who isn’t really hard to find; or to figure out how and why Kate finds herself beholden to a draconic criminal mastermind. The authors are also fond of inserting interesting characters to interact with Kate but who don’t really add much to the story. It could have been a more tightly written account of Kate’s two-fold adventure and bring both threads together…but it fails at that. The dialogue is also rambly (is that a real word?) and tends to sound much like ordinary conversation in places, which does little to advance the story.
Unfortunately, I am committed to reviewing the entire trilogy so watch for the next review. ~~ Catherine Book
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