Home > Book, fantasy, Genre, Review > Book Review: The Broken Sword by Joseph Robert Lewis (Series, #2)

Book Review: The Broken Sword by Joseph Robert Lewis (Series, #2)

Man with sword in front of tiger.Summary:
The international bunch from the first book is back, this time with their lives intersecting in Espani.  Taziri is now flying the Halycon 2, which is an airplane instead of an airship.  Major Zidane is working as flight security, and Keenan is her copilot.  Qhora and Lorenzo are married and living in Madrid running a fencing school.  One day, Taziri’s flight drifts a bit off-course, while bringing passengers from Italia to Mazigh, and they happen to spot a brand-new Espani warship that promptly shoots at them.  Forced down over Espani, Taziri takes her passengers to Lorenzo’s home, where they stumble into the middle of his personal quest to find the skyfire stone.  A stone that fell from heaven in the frigid northern part of Espani, and that is supposed to emit heat that Lorenzo hopes will save the faith of his fellow Espanis.

Review:
In the first book, Lewis surprised me by writing a steampunk that I actually enjoyed.  In this one, he managed to do that with a fantasy.  Definitely impressive.

Whereas the first book focused on Taziri and the Mazigh steampunk science, this one focuses in on Espani–a culture that shuns science and instead trusts in faith.  This is certainly not a set-up that would lead me to be sympathetic toward Lorenzo at all, and yet.  It’s hard to blame someone for having faith in a country where people routinely interact with ghosts and water spirits.  Eventually it comes to make sense why the Espani are so steeped in their faith and why it’s important to Lorenzo.  It is his culture, after all.  His culture, his land, his people.  He’s afraid that the steampower and innovations from the southern nations are going to overpower and ruin Espani.  It’s a culture clash from history only turned a bit on its head with Europe being the one to cling to the old ways.  I think addressing the issue this way makes it more understandable and thought-provoking for the reader.

My complaint in the first book was there was too much exposition and it took too long to get the action going.  Not a problem here!  The plot jumps right in with both feet and sweeps along at a good, steady pace.  The method of switching character perspectives in each chapter also works better in this book than in the first one.  Perhaps this is because we know and understand them better, but I also think that the overall plot is just better and more tightly structured this time around.

The settings evoked are again stunning, only this time the direct opposite of Mazigh.  The frozen north is something I have an affinity for myself, having grown up near the Canadian border in Vermont, and Lewis demonstrates how weather affects culture quite well.

Not to be outdone, Syfax imitated her [taking a shot of vodka] and almost choked on the burning in his throat, but he held it back and managed a grin. “You drink this for fun?”
“No, I drink it to get drunk, major. When you live in a climate like this, some nights are best spent with your brain on fire, burning your blood from the inside out.” (location 1929)

Can I also say, this book has a very hot, sex-positive, sex scene, and I like it, and can we get more of that please? 😉

Two things I didn’t like quite so much.  First, Taziri’s plot again mostly involves her wanting to get back to her family and missing her daughter.  This feels a bit too much like a repeat of the first book.  Second, where were all the Espani women?  I cannot think of a single significant one encountered in a whole book set there.  This made me sad after the large presence of females in the first book.  Qhora talks about Espani female gentility and such, but we don’t ever really see it.

Overall, this is a fulfilling follow-up to the first book that does not suffer from the middle book in the trilogy plight that so often occurs to book two.  The setting is different, and the action is tighter.  I’m excited to read the final book in the trilogy and am certain fans of the first book will not be disappointed by this one.

Oh, and Lewis?  Can you please write something set in the New World?  I need more giant, purring tigers in my life.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from the author in exchange for my honest review

Buy It

Previous Books in Series:
The Burning Sky (review)

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