The Crosser’s Maze is a legendary device, a mysterious artifact of mind, magic, and metal. The archmage Abernathy believes that it can permanently prevent the malevolent Naradawk Skewn from escaping his otherworldly prison and bringing the world to ruin. But the archmagi are spending all of their wizardly might keeping Naradawk locked away. The burden of finding the Crosser’s Maze rests with Horn’s Company.
Dranko, Morningstar, and the rest of their ragtag band need only acquire the maze and bring it back to Abernathy. Nothing could be easier—except that no one knows exactly what the maze looks like. Or how big it is. Or precisely *where* it is. Or how to use it.
Worse, the Crosser’s Maze waits somewhere in the distant land of Kivia, on the far side of the Uncrossable Sea. The only means of getting there is a magical archway through which a hostile army is, even now, invading from the other side.
And, as if all of *that* weren’t dire enough, the evil Sharshun have sent an agent of their own to Kivia. She seeks the Crosser’s Maze for herself—and she has a month head start. If she finds it first, the world of Spira is doomed.(taken from Amazon)
I enjoyed book one, The Venifact Colossus, so much that I was a little nervous about reading the second book in the series. I am happy to report that I didn’t need to be. The Crosser’s Maze only increased my love of this series. Perfectly balancing action with character growth, author Dorian Hart has created a fantasy series that is utterly engrossing. There will be slight spoilers for book one below, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum. You can find my review for book one here: The Ventifact Colossus.
Book two continues with the reappearance of Grey Wolf, who had been separated from the company. Together with a new addition (who is purrfect), they set off in an attempt to acquire the Crosser’s Maze. I’m not going to say any more about that for fear of spoiling things. Half of the enormous fun of book two is the sheer number of twists and unexpected revelations. I couldn’t have predicted the ending if I tried.
One thing I like about questing fantasy is the opportunity it presents regarding world building. It really is only constrained by the author’s creativity. The uniqueness of this world is fantastic. While there are many twists on the usual fantasy creatures, one of the things that set this world apart is the exploration of differing belief systems throughout the world. I loved watching the believers in the different religions interact with each other and seeing how those interactions changed or further strengthened their original beliefs. So often in fantasy worlds, the mythology and religions are there but unexplored. Not so in this case. I found myself eagerly looking forward to every new piece of information regarding the deities in each area.
Now, on to the characters. In the first book, I couldn’t pick just one favorite. I ended up with a top three. The same happened here. I loved each character. Ernie is still a favorite of mine. Watching him grow in self-confidence (he really is his own worst enemy) was a joy. I loved the moments when he would stop questioning himself and take charge. He was smarter and much more capable than he gave himself credit for and his inner pep talks cracked me up. They sounded very familiar (although I tend not to mention turtles in mine).
I thought Kibi’s storyline was great in this book! His magical ability, for lack of a better term, is so interesting. I love how he just accepted what he could do without a ton of questioning because it was so innate to his identity. Seeing him trying to explain it to someone else always makes me laugh a little. The way he solves problems is unique and so much fun to read!
I still loved Dranko, of course. I feel like he is underappreciated by the others simply because his personality is a little coarse. Sure, he’s prickly on the outside, but his depth of character and quiet selflessness adds so much to the group. That moment of understanding when he learned a little bit more about Grey Wolf was so cool!
More of the characters’ backgrounds were revealed and watching how they reacted to revelations of things previously unmentioned was fascinating. It allowed for a vast amount of character growth without taking away from the action in the book (and there was a lot of action). The story continues to develop beautifully. I loved this book and I can’t wait to read book three.
The Crosser’s Maze is filled with action and even more heart. I highly recommend this series.