As I mentioned when I reviewed Red Queen, Book #1 in this dystopian fantasy series, I liked it so much that I immediately purchased Book #2, Glass Sword. Victoria Aveyard has written a series that may feature YA characters but it’s a story that I think will appeal to adults of all ages as well. It’s a classic have vs. have-not world, a world in which the privileged have abused their power – in other words, a story that we see repeated over and over again throughout history. Absolute power corrupts absolutely but at some point the abused hit a breaking point and won’t take it anymore. Sound timely?
Caution: If you haven’t read Red Queen yet, be sure to link to that review instead of reading this one to avoid huge spoilers. Sometimes novels in a series can be picked up and read as stand alones…this isn’t one of those. This is a series I believe needs to be read in order, and not just because of world building and because the characters evolve so much with each book. Let’s just say it will be a far richer experience if read in sequence.
I’m going to try to be as vague as possible but I can’t avoid spoilers so, once again, if you haven’t read Red Queen then don’t read this review. Instead go to the link at the bottom of this article and read the Red Queen review instead…
Mare knows she’s not a fake even though the new king has labeled her one. She also knows she’s not any more responsible for the prior king’s death than his purported murderer is. Lies – all lies; however, now she’s on the run and her life has become a living nightmare. She’s gone from being a Red with no future to a hybrid, a.k.a., Newblood, of some sort with powers no one understands, and with the Silver royal family declaring her a Silver even though they know she’s not, and from there to being a fugitive with a death sentence on her head. And a lot of people have paid for what’s happened with their lives, people who did nothing but help her. It’s enough to make anyone go nuts.
“Farley nudges my hand, her touch surprisingly gentle. ‘Hide your face, lightning girl. It’s what they’re after.’
For once, I do as I’m told. The others follow, pulling red fabric up over their mouths and noses. Cal is the last uncovered face, but not for long. He doesn’t fight Farley when she ties his mask in place, making him look like one of us.
If only he was.”
There are a few things that keep Mare going, in no particular order: the need to ensure her family is safe; the need to prove her innocence and the innocence of the person accused of beheading the prior Silver king; the need to overthrow the betrayers who now claim the Silver throne; the need to find the other Newbloods like her before they are assassinated; and the need to see Reds made equal citizens in this world (and Techies too while she’s at it). That’s quite a laundry list for someone who’ll be lucky to keep her own head on her shoulders.
How can she possibly achieve all of that when her face is plastered on wanted posters everywhere with a reward large enough to make anyone betray her? Even if she weren’t the poster child for Wanted Dead or Alive, it would be a massive problem given the powerful forces she’s up against. Hey, the impossible just takes a bit longer, right?
Thanks to the Red Guard, she’s got a head start but everyone involved knows her life and the lives of anyone helping her could be counted in minutes, hours, or days instead of years unless they can get to the other Newbloods before the betrayers holding the Silver throne can find them. Everything depends on that…literally everything.
In addition, the time Mare has spent in the Silver royal household and the betrayals she has suffered have changed her dramatically. She has become hardened as the domino effect of profound betrayals stacked one rapidly atop another have eaten away at her belief in her fellow man. She doesn’t know if she can trust anyone at this point. And she’s reluctant to get close to anyone because she knows only too well how quickly they can turn on her or die with no warning.
The warning she received when she entered the Silver royal household continues to ring in her ears, “Anyone can betray anyone.” And she’s learned the hard way that anyone means the person you would least expect. How naïve she was and what a horrible price she and everyone around her have paid for her trust in the wrong people. She is determined not to make that mistake again; however, it means she feels she can’t trust anyone. Will that turn her into the very image of the powerful Silvers she most despises?
Added to the isolation resulting from her fear of trusting the wrong people is the weight she bears of her mistakes. The guilt she feels about every innocent who has perished, or been irreparably harmed by her actions, gives her nightmares and weighs upon her mind 24/7. She berates herself for not being able to see how her actions would create havoc for those she cared for the most. No one can bear that kind of burden but she somehow thinks she “should” have been prescient and omniscient. Anyone thinking straight would know that no one can predict how events will unfold in the future or how those events will impact those around us. That doesn’t stop Mare from beating herself to a pulp over how events in her life have destroyed people in her life.
And how can she decide whose life she will risk going forward? There is no question that lives will have to be put at risk for the Red Guard to succeed, but whose? And that, my fellow readers, could be the straw that breaks Mare’s back if she can’t do a major reality check. Granted a lot of people’s lives are at stake and that is a horrendous responsibility; however, one newly formed adult can’t carry the whole warring world on her shoulders and survive it, can she?
What will happen to Mare, her family, and her cohorts? Will she find the other Newbloods in time to save them? Once found, can they be trained in their powers in time or will they perish when pitted against more experienced Silvers bent on destruction? Will the stress and Mare’s unrealistic expectations for herself set her up to fail? Will she collapse under the outward as well as self-imposed pressure?
Glass Sword continues to build elements of this world and its inhabitants, with more glimpses into how it became this way. It also continues to build depth to its characters – both the ones we knew from Red Queen as well as new additions who will likely become even more pivotal as the series progresses. One of the things I love about this series is the characters’ depth. There are some nasty villains; however, all of the characters have psychological layers that are gradually peeled away – there really aren’t any two-dimensional fantasy characters here. And I would only call this series a fantasy series because of the extraordinary powers the Silvers and Newbloods possess, which I suspect fall under the guise of magic being science – or in this case possibly genetics – unexplained. I believe Victoria Aveyard has a real winning series on her hands. I’m definitely recommending it. I know there are at least two more books being written for this series already. I can’t wait for Book #3 to be published!
Can’t wait to read it? Glass Sword is available in all formats from your favorite online bookseller below. Just click on the link and you can have it to read asap!
I’d love to get your comments on Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard and/or her other work, and/or this review. Click here to read our review of Red Queen, Book #1 in this series.