Back Cover Synopsis:
In the dark corners of an ancient land, evil lurks in the shadows. Powerful druids haunt the spaces of their lost territory. Double-minded noblemen fight for domain and influence. Invaders from the north threaten the kingdom of Magnus. This land of promise and redemption is mired in deceit and corruption.
The Orphan King, once victorious in conquest, appears to be losing his grip on his seat of power. Thomas rules Magnus, but does not know whom he can trust. His enemies anticipate his every move, thwarting him at each turn. Something is not right.
Under attack, both in the supernatural and natural worlds, Thomas must reach back into the secret layers of his past to find the strength and wisdom to fight his battles. When the mist clears, who will stand with him?
Sigmund Brouwer is a brilliant author. When I was in middle school, I attended one of his writing seminars, and since then I have read a few of his novels, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. When I saw his name on the list of books available for review, I grabbed it.
I didn’t realize when I did that Fortress of Mist is actually the second in the Merlin’s Immortals trilogy. I tried to find the first book, The Orphan King, but to no avail. I was afraid not having read the first book would affect my enjoyment of the second. But Brouwer, being the excellent writer that he is, kept me in the know without spoiling the first book. There were pieces of information I was missing, but he gave me just enough to understand what was going on even while I grew more curious about the first installment of the story.
The story itself was gripping. This was definitely a page-turner. The plot was pleasingly complex, well-thought out, and organized, so I didn’t get confused with random sub-plotlines. The characters in it were also well-developed. Thomas, the main character and ruler of Magnus, was believably deep. He was smart, and acted like he had everything together, but he also had many doubts about his past and his character. He was brave, but I saw his fear underneath it. He had a good balance of strength and vulnerability.
Most of the other main characters had the same balance to a lesser extent, but I wasn’t given as much background on them as I was on Thomas, so some of them were hard to understand. Thomas’s lady love was especially difficult – her motives and true feelings were almost impossible to discern because her actions seemed so random. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough, but I think a reading of the first book would do tons to clear that up.
DISCLAIMER: The next paragraph talks about Brouwer’s use of magic in the book. This discussion cannot be had without a little bit of a spoiler. If you don’t want to know Thomas’s secret weapon, skip the next paragraph. (However, this was one of the best parts of the book.)
One thing that points to Brouwer’s ability was his use of magic. I like fantasy as much as the next girl (and I love Harry Potter), but sometimes magic in books can be hokey, especially if they are set in earlier times like this book is. However, Brouwer uses magic in a unique way. Thomas has one main weapon of his own – knowledge. Somehow in the first installment he gains access to a set of books. These books are about science and military tactics and history, from what I read. Thomas hides them away and uses the information in them to thwart his enemies. Once, near the end of the book, Magnus, his kingdom, is being attacked and Thomas needs a diversion of some sort. He uses chemistry to create clouds of smoke and special effects that frighten the attackers. The average person from the Middle Ages would not know of these chemical tactics, so to the soldiers it seemed like magic or sorcery. This is how Brouwer threw in the fantastical magic while still making it believable.
Brouwer’s storytelling is great. I am definitely going to go back and read the first book, and I’ll be waiting for the last one. He leaves just enough loose ends to leave me wanting more. I heartily recommend this.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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