The Severed Realm is the second book of The Riven Gates series, which is the fourth series in the Mageborn saga. My review for book one of this series is here. My review for the first the last book in the previous series is here. My review for the earliest series (Embers of Illeniel) is here. My review for the central series (Mageborn) is here.
Spoiler Free Summary: Mordecai is still reeling from the events of the previous books, and his enemies only press their advantage. When Mordecai missteps, his decisions get him imprisoned, and Rose Thornbear must risk everything and do anything to save him.
Character: It would be fair to say Rose shines in this book. I probably would have liked for the sub-plot (obvious if you’ve been reading the whole series) had another book to develop, but Manning does make a reasonable effort to make it plausible if not believable. Mordecai doesn’t get much screen time, but the next generation of heroes really brought a smile to my face. They didn’t get as much screen time as I’d have wished, but they’re really coming into their own. I’m not actually a fan of political intrigue stories, so the fact that this held my attention is a testament to the characters and an example of why I love Manning’s work so much.
Exposition: This might have been a bit heavier than the last book, but that’s because this book is dominantly a political intrigue and mystery novel. You can’t have a novel of that sort without a higher-than-average amount of exposition. Someone may disagree with me on that, but when you’re talking about a mystery, eventually someone (Holmes) has to explain to someone (Watson) what the clues mean. So while there was more exposition than an average Manning story, I’d say this is actually better given the type of story he’s telling. The story never drags or gets bogged down.
Worldbuilding: This disappointed me a bit here. My frustration with this book is that I wanted a story that deepens this universe and gets back to the action I love, and I got a political intrigue/mystery novel. It wasn’t a bad story. It might even be better than the first book in a number of ways, but it just wasn’t what I wanted, and that fantastic wordlbuilding of Manning’s isn’t here because the book’s events take place in an area that’s already familiar.
Dialogue: Still Manning’s weakest area, Manning leans on this pretty hard to get his exposition across. There’s one particularly lengthy discussion between Rose and another character that doesn’t work for me (spoilers). This weak area doesn’t bother me so much, but if when I groaned while reading this book, it was while reading dialogue.
Description: This book carries on Manning’s typical amazing visuals and visceral settings. Honestly if you like worldbuilding and description, I’d recommend any of Manning’s books just to study these characteristics of a book.
Overall: This book is a great addition to the series, and I think I like it even more than I did when I finished reading it three months ago. It’s exciting, and it has great drama. it sets up a lot of conflict. I will say that some of this is based on my optimistic belief that the next book will be much more action oriented. If the conflict teased in the first two books pays off in the next, I’ll be thrilled. As a stand-alone story, it’s a very good drama.
Thanks for reading