It’s been a few months since I’ve been able to complete a book, largely due to my new job as the lead developer at CasaHop. We’re not fully launched yet, but it’s been really exciting building my team and launching new features. I’m working pretty hard, but I’ve managed to figure out a bit of a work/life balance now, so I’m back to reading and blogging!
Shadow of Stone by Ruth Nestvold is the follow up to Yseult, which was one of my favourite books this year. Yseult was the story of Drystan and Yseult, but in this book, it’s been ten years since Drystan has died, and Yseult has had to make a life for herself. Like the previous book, this is also not just a romance – it has politics, battles, the struggle between the old ways and the new and more!
I can’t really review this book very well as a stand alone, so please forgive the constant comparisons with Yseult. Yseult is truly epic, spanning the cultures of Eriu and Brittania, the passionate love of Drystan and Yseult and the impossible dream of unifying Britain. Shadow of Stone is a much less idealistic book. All the familiar characters from Yseult are older and no longer look at the world through the rosy lenses of youth. They are more pragmatic, more cynical – simply older.
That doesn’t mean that the book is any less interesting. Nestvold’s characters are still compelling, and still growing and learning. Yseult can never love like she loved Drystan, but discovers that that may not be such a bad thing. The conflict between the pagans and the Christians has settled into a compromise, but there is still the occasional disagreement. It’s exciting to see the impassioned young men and women we met in Yseult grow into the (mostly) levelheaded adults in Shadow in Stone. I really enjoyed the book’s focus on Cador; he was a great character in the previous book and he’s grown into a great man and king.
So what actually happens? As I mentioned earlier, it’s ten years after Drystan’s death, and Yseult has made her home in Britain, ruling benevolently over her husband’s former kingdom. Britain’s kings have been unified and have seen ten years of peace under Arthur. However, everyone is not as happy with this peace as Yseult and her allies, and suddenly there is war again, with the usual plotting, romance, intrigue and betrayal.
If you liked Yseult, you will like Shadow of Stone. And in case you haven’t read Yseult, you probably should.
Note: I got a free copy of this book from the author.