Review of WINGS OF WRATH by C. S. Friedman (see her website)
MAGISTER SAGA Vol. 2
Daw, February 2009
For thousands of years, the wrath, a line of magic has separated the frozen north from the populous nations of the world. The Guardians remember the wars of the souleaters and guard the wrath, recusing themselves from conflict among waring nations, but now the wrath seems to be crumbling and souleaters are once again seen in the human world. Worse, the souleaters seem to have come into some sort of relationship with a number of humans. Not everyone will join with the guardians when they attempt to repair the damage to the wrath and ensure that the souleaters do not overrun the entire planet.
Author C. S. Friedman (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Friedman) lets us see different angles of the story from a number of viewpoint characters. His father and older brother dead, Salvator arrives to claim his throne. Female magister Kamala is on the run from other magisters while joining up with guardian Rhys as he braves the wrath to discover what has gone wrong with the ancient barrier, then attempts to support him when what he discovers threatens his sanity. Siderea faces the knowledge that her magic is almost spent, that the power and beauty she's relied on for so long is a thing of the past--and discovers a way to regain her power.
WINGS OF WRATH presents an intriguing world where magic comes only at the cost of human life, where magisters, those who can steal power from others, are both revered and hated, and where the danger of the souleaters once caused a sacrifice so huge it's been written out of history. I thought she missed some chances to add to the story when she chose to make the souleaters one-dimensional. In fact, the weakness in this story comes in the characters. Of the major protagonists, only Kamala is sympathetic, and even in her case, it's hard to understand her motivation for risking her life and magic when no other magister will do the same.
WINGS OF WRATH doesn't quite live up to its potential. This is, unfortunately, common in the second book in a trilogy. It'll be interesting to see how Friedman brings together the various strands of her story in the concluding volume.
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