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The Place of Dead Kings

The Place of Dead Kings by Geoffrey Wilson, Jack Casey #2

The rebellion of 1852 has failed. Only a few small bands of English rebels still hold out against the Rajthanan empire.
jack Casey, reluctant hero of the resistance, has survived to train young patriots in the remote wilds of Shropshire. But he is gravely ill...

Then rebel spies bring news of a rogue Indian sorcerer in Scotland. Mahajan has discovered a mysterious power in the uncharted country of the north - a power that could be the legendary Holy Grail The Rajthanans have already assembled an army to search Mahajan. Jack has nothing to lose now. He agrees to lead his own men, disguised as porters for the conquerors, on the same gruelling march.

They hope to find a a weapon that will free England from her rulers. But they discover something that is beyond what any of them ever expected.

The Place of Dead Kings is the second book in the Jack Casey series written by Geoffrey Wilson. Its predecessor Land of Hope and Glory was published last year by Hodder and Stoughton. Land of Hope and Glory was also the debut novel of Geoffrey Wilson. It was the starter of my alternate history reading for Fantasy Book Review. The whole premise of the “Jack Casey” series was marvelous to begin with. Geoffrey Wilson turned the table a 180 degrees for the British, where the Indian Mutiny is now taking place in England.  This is not only twist made, on top it you also had the sattva powered world. Streams of this magical energy provide the ability to cast powerful yantra’s. The first book did leave a bit of an open ending though with a lot of promise for a follow up.

The Place of Dead Kings starts off with quite the display of muskets and sattva empowered magics, these scenes were told in a very engaging manner that I have come to appreciate from the first book. The second book is different from the first book mainly in how the story was shown, with a different focus and emphasis as the story progressed. The emphasis in the first book was on Jack Casey and provided and established a very strong background and character of him. In the Place of Dead Kings there is subtle shift towards showing more of the alternate England, though Jack still feature as the main protagonist. This shift added much more depth to the story, showing a lot more world building. Geoffrey Wilson incorporates a lot of little things here and there that make the story very rich. 
Storywise The Place of Dead Kings takes some giant leaps. I was already pleased with how this was shown. However there is cause, and at the root we find Jack again. Now the ending of the first book left the story more an open ending, though Jack had to make some harsh decisions. In the Place of Dead Kings, Jack is nearing the ending of his life... an important event in his past scarred him and there is just one more chance to save him. Finding the Holy Grail, to save himself and set England free. After a meeting with his older Sikh friend Kanvar, he has some new inspired hope. And just as I thought everything would be finally fine for Jack and his family, a new threat arises. The Rajthanan general Vadula is marching up Shropshire. Jack was already building up a rebellion to start a new revolt against the Rajthanan, he has enlisted some English native who show aptitude towards the sattva and casting yantra’s.But will his efforts in stopping the war proof to be enough?

Getting back to the leaps now. Instead of Jack going off with a party, Geoffrey Wilson pulls of a pretty neat thing. He makes Jack join up with a Rajthanen expedition. Its more by what occurs during the expedition to Scotland that a lot is shown both in terms of character development and adding depthto the series by showing all what is possible. . By doing this, a lot of things, I think, are set into motion. For starters there is a new character introduced that I think hasn’t made its last appearance the Rajthanan Rao. First off, he is pretty strict in living up to the rules set to him by their god. And actually as the expedition is progressing they encounter more than a few problem and all these events lead up to a unexpected change in the character of Rao. I think it isn’t the last we have seen of him, or at least I hope so. You learn more about the strict habits of the Rajthanan and also a few nicely integrated flashbacks among others from his former Captain Jhala of Jack’s past when his scare flare up.

As the ending of the book nears there is a great build up of all that is happening in the story that really got me hooked. As Jack’s days slowly tick off, his quest for finding the Grail becomes more and more important but he is not without setbacks in this. By some of these setbacks and some more promises of a final encounter the pacing of this book tripled as the plot drew near. Can Jack find the Grail in time? In the ending I was more than pleased with how the plot came together. It comes to notice that the Holy Grail might just be a abstract concept or is it much more? Was is indeed hidden there in the castle or is Jack really that special? He has defied karma once already..

In the Place of Dead Kings, Geoffrey Wilson further engages the reader in this mystical and now mythical alternate world where the Indians have invaded England. It’s not your standard fantasy book but The Place of Dead Kings introduces some very cool concepts. Still the power and premise of the sattva empowered magic stands in the back of my mind. What is also still clinging is the last sentence of the book like a impending inevitable doom. Time is running out. Will the rebellion be drilled into action on time? I can’t  wait for the third book. War of the Grail out November 2013 by Hodder and Stoughton. In short The Place of Dead Kings showcases some magnificent battle scenes, a unique concept and a compelling set of character that all collide into a great story. 

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