The Shining Ones by David Eddings - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.
HAVOC AND WAR
Prince Sparhawk is pledged to fight the enemies of the Tamul Emperor Sarabian with all the skill and cunning of a Pandion Knight. Meanwhile his Queen, Ehlana, educates Sarabian in the art of ruthless statesmanship. Sarabian is transformed from a mere puppet ruler into a formindable politician. But still Trolls, vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghouls and Ogres form a vast conspiracy to take over the Empire. Most disturbing of all are the reported sightings of Shining Ones amongst the hordes. These luninous beings inspire more fear than the rest combined. And Sparhawk and his companions must resurrect the sacred jewel of the Troll-Gods to combat them.
The enemies of the Empire know that possession of the jewel makes Sparhawk as dangerous as any god. But gods are among his foes. And while Sparhawk defends the far-flung Tamul Empire, he cannot also protect his beautiful Queen. From the blurb
The Shining Ones, the second book in The Tamuli, continues the story awesome story set in the Tamul Empire on the other side of the world, and things are getting more interesting!
After the failed coup on the palace, Sparhawk and his friends now know it was an attempt to discover their resources and their weaknesses. They also know that it's not the Troll-Gods who are behind it all, but Cyrgon, god of the long-thought extinct Cyrgai. There is no choice but to retrieve Bhelliom to counter Cyrgon's powers. Led by the whimsical Child Goddess, Aphrael, Sparhawk and his companions return to where the sapphire rose is hidden. Back in the captial city of Matherion, Queen Ehlana has taken Emperor Sarabian underhand and is teaching him the game of politics. It seems a fair few of the people in his government have been plotting against him, and they turn the whole government on its head through subterfuge to find out just who is guilty of treason.
Once Bhelliom is back in his hand, Sparhawk makes his journey back to Matherion, discovering more about the enemy as he goes. Sparhawk soon discovers that they mythical Shinging Ones aren't quite as mythical as everyone thought, and their danger is very real. And with that discovery is it revealed that not all are who they seem.
As with The Elenium, there was very little I remembered about the story of The Tamuli, so there was a lot I found surprising as I was reading. This trilogy has so many layers to it! Just when you think you know which way is up, something else comes along to confuse the issue - bringing danger along with it.
While Sparhawk is away, this book jumps back and forth between him and his companions to Ehlana, Sarabian and the people with them. I have to say, as amusing as Ehlana and Sarabian are together, I found Sparhawk's journey more exciting. I found them trying to infiltrate the government took too long for my liking, and became a little tedious for me, however, I can't deny that a huge amount of work went into the detail of finding out just what was happening is amazing. Eddings really did have a clever imagination.
Sephrenia goes through something terrible in this book, and it's shocking to see the woman she becomes when she comes to face-to-face with what causes her so much anguish. You hardly recognise her. It's so surprising to see loving, calm Sephrenia so full of hate and anger. But it's also wonderful to see what this does to the story, to the relationships, and what it eventually leads to.
I did remember the shocking revelation that is discovered in this book, but I had forgotten why. Reading about that again was really, really disturbing. But how that changes things on the gameboard is pretty exciting, seeing what it means to the others - personally and with regards to fighting the enemy, you just know there are exciting things to come!
A fantastic second book in a superb trilogy!
David Eddings' Website
My other reviews from the series:
Domes of Fire (The Tamuli Book 1)