This sequel picks up right where The Mark of Ran ended. Sailing aboard his black man-of-war, Revenant, Rol Cortishane and his crew are sinking Bionese vessels to maintain the city of Ganesh Ka's secret location. Unfortunately, although Rol enjoys the simplicity that now govern his life, things have a tendency to complicate themselves.
Tidings pertaining to the lost heir of Bionar begin to surface and Rol realizes that the past he left behind is about to creep up on him. When Canker, former King of Thieves, shows up unexpectedly, Rol discovers that he has few options. He will soon find himself in the middle of a bloody war, as Rowen makes her move to claim the richest kingdom in the world.
I liked the fact that Paul Kearney expanded on his worldbuilding, demonstrating a definite depth that was only hinted at in the first volume. I find myself eager to learn more about the different countries and societies that comprise the world of Umer.
The characterizations are again superior to what is the norm in today's market. Building on his previous work in The Mark of Ran, character growth is evident with Rol, Gallico and Elias Creed. And even though Rowen, Canker and a cast of secondary characters are an interesting bunch, those three main characters carry the story along.
Some of the emerging storylines show a lot of promise. And yet, the war which constitutes the bulk of This Forsaken Earth felt like some sort of interlude.
As was the case with The Mark of Ran, Kearney sets a rather crisp, page-turning pace in this sequel. Alas, with the war taking center stage for a good portion of the book, I felt that the ending comes too rapidly.
I really liked This Forsaken Earth, but I thought that Rol was too easily influenced to become part of Rowen's schemes. Other than that, it was a satisfying read. I'll be waiting eagerly for the third volume. . .
The final verdict: 7.5/10
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