Lance of Earch and Sky
Vidarian Rulorat, a captain without a ship, faces the consequences of opening a gate between worlds. Elemental magic is awakening across the planet after centuries of dormancy, brining with it magically powered wonders including flying ships and ancient automata. After decades of peace, empires leap into war over long-disputed territory as their technologies shift – and on top of it all, Ariadel, Vidarian’s one great love isn’t speaking to him. Called into service by the desperate young emperor of Alorea, Vidarian must lead skypships in a war against the neighbouring southern empire, train demoralized imperial Sky Knights to ride beasts that now shapeshift, master his own amplified elemental magic, and win back Ariadel – all without loosing his mind.
Compounding his task is a political minefield laid by the Alorean Import Company, which may or may not be fomenting war across the world, and a shapeshifter that bonds to Vidarian during his early attempts to subdue the rogue birdlike seridi. And, as always, the Starhunter, goddess of chaos, is never far from Vidarian’s heels, inexorably guiding him toward her own concern: the lance of earth and sky.
The Lance of Earth and Sky is the second book in the Chaos Knight trilogy written by video-game designer Erin Hoffman. I read and reviewed the first book in the series, Sword of Fire and Sea, not so long ago and I was pleasantly surprised with how the first book worked out. Especially by that Erin Hoffman wanted to bring back more of a classical fantasy approach in her series. I did have a few minor remarks about how the story was written itself, they were more on the “show, don’t tell basis” which I can imagine can be quite frustrating during the reading of it. However looking back on Lance of Earth and Sky, I just cannot see to find any remarks. It seems that Erin Hoffman really transformed her story in the Chaos Knight series.
The first book in the series, Sword of Fire and Sea, introduced us to Vidarian, who was called into service to protect a young priestess. And in the ending, Vidarian found out that he was much more than he thought he was. Now I do have to mention something in order to make one argument clear. In the first book Vidarian opened a gate between world which caused an influx and awakening of the dormant elemental magic in the world of Andovar. Vidarian is now one of the powerful elemental magic users. As for the second book of this series, it some how seems that there is a sort of new start made in terms of the storyline. This book greatly builds upon the foundation that was laid down in the first book, dealing with all the consequences that came along with opening the gate.
What were these consequences? Well for starters, with the awakening of elemental magic, the world of Andovar changed back more towards its origins. One great feat that showed this in Lance of Earth and Sky is the world building. It was just superb. Of course we learned a lot about the world of Andovar in the first book already, mainly about the characters, the society of priestesses and several of the magical/mythical creatures like the intelligent and telepathic gryphons that inhabit the world. By the awakening, a lot of other things happened in Andovar. The first being shapechangers, beasts that can shift their guises, being a harmless “pet” normally and when need requires, a dragon in the blink of an eye, I found this a great element to read about and Erin Hoffman told these shifts and the scenes surrounding them quite vividly which gave some cool thoughts in my mind. Another element that added much to the new world was the introductions of the automatons. These automata are beings of old created by the Great Artificers. In Lance of Earth and Sky you are introduced to a few specific automata, each with different powers. Some remain much more obscure in the story while others are shown in more colors. But again with the gryphons and a lot of other elements, Erin Hoffman has created again an alluring sense around these automata that really played parts on my curiosity. Each time I wanted just to learn more about them. Some might say that these automated beings might not fit into an epic fantasy series, but I must disagree. Its more on the contrary where they further give a more depth in the story.
Next to theses two introductions, Erin Hoffman delves deeper into the intricate societies of the gryphons. Thereby further broadening and showing just how powerful these magical creatures are – and how important a role they play in Andovar.
The other follow up of the consequences of opening the gate, was how the kingdoms were thrown in peril. I really liked how Vidarian was used in this plot, being the Tessaract, with incredible powers both sides want him. The Alorean emperor and the Alorean Import Company, who are powerful enough to take over Andovar. His character is shown in a great many ways, how he goes about navigating the various offers and all the political navigation that goes along with it. Bu luckily Vidarian knows which side he has to choose.
One other last thing that makes this second book and amazing read is the magic. In the first book there was a slight emphasis on the elemental magic in Andovar that was released into the story in reigned in amounts. But in Lance of Earth and Sky, the magic just comes at you full force. There are much more magical wielders this time and not only humans. In several encounters when you see Vidarian releasing his power, the build-up of tension is just amazing, especially when it doesn’t stick with only one element. These magic scenes were detailed and colorfully written down. Now a bit similar trend was emerging though, there is a great introduction in the story with magic, and later it again ebbs away in the background and kept me just hoping to see it snap into action once again. There is just one part that could be improved a bit more but it’s really minor, Erin Hoffman managed to put down a great build up of the scenes but they were often times over within a heartbeat, a bit more prolonging of the magical battle scenes would have made it even more amazing.
For me Erin Hoffman really sets a new standard with Lance of Earth and Sky, its writing feels different a lot better more crips and much more engaging, not falling into a to rapid pacing jumping from place to place or the show, don’t tell introductions, but really showing the world of Andovar as it is. Lance of Earth and Sky delves into the consequences set into motion by Vidarian both how the world is changing, which Erin Hoffman manages to tell in a colourful and interesting way, but also with the political side as continents are on the brink of war. I was already a fan of the Chaos Knight series, but Lance of Earth and Sky further increases my interests in this series. I can’t wait to reach the conclusion of the Chaos Knight series.