The Sapphire Altar by David Dalglish

In this epic fantasy from a bestselling author, a usurped prince must master the magic of shadows in order to reclaim his kingdom and his people.

Cyrus wants out. Trained to be an assassin in order to oust the invading Empire from his kingdom, Cyrus is now worried the price of his vengeance is too high. His old master has been keeping too many secrets to be trusted. And the mask he wears to hide his true identity and become the legendary “Vagrant” has started whispering to him in the dark. But the fight isn’t over and the Empire has sent its full force to bear upon Cyrus’s floundering revolution. He’ll have to decide once and for all whether to become the thing he fears or lose the country he loves.(Taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Sapphire Altar is available now.

The Sapphire Altar is the second book in the Vagrant Gods series. So much happened in book one, The Bladed Faith, that I was supremely grateful for the summary provided at the beginning of book two. It helped ensure that nothing was forgotten.

Wow! I was absolutely floored by the brilliance of the writing and the complexity of the plot. Religious fanaticism and rebellion interacted in ways that went far beyond “good vs bad”, instead exposing motives that were surprisingly nuanced. Themes of faith and redemption once again drove the book. This is a complicated story, one that asks for and deserves the reader’s full attention. Honestly, though, it was hard to put The Sapphire Altar down once I picked it up.

The Sapphire Altar serves to open the series up even more, focusing on characters other than just Cyrus (although I still find him fascinating). Reading more about what made the different characters tick made them all the more believable. Keles, in particular, stood out to me. There’s always something risky about writing a character who is dealing with a crisis of faith. If you are too heavy-handed, it loses its importance. If you don’t stress it enough, the emotional impact is lost. Holy moly, Dalglish nailed it. Faith can be tied to a person’s sense of self, so reading about someone’s struggle with it should feel raw and vulnerable. I was uncomfortable at times, reading about the shifts and loss of belief in different characters, but it was the sort of uncomfortable that comes from incredible writing and character development. These characters jump off the page.

The pacing was good, although it felt a little different this time around. I think that was simply because of the amount of emotional baggage that these characters were carting around. I’m sure it was heavy! There was a lot going on, but it was balanced with a large dose of introspection. I am a fan of characters who have to come to grips with their pasts and make decisions that reflect who they’ve become, so I was completely on board with this. The pace picked up at the end, galloping with almost reckless abandon into a conclusion that left me reeling.

The world is fantastic and continues to become more fleshed out. It is one that feels very well thought-out to me. I like that it seemed to grow as we see it in regard to what is happening. The fight scenes were killer (pun intended) and kept me on the edge of my seat.

I was left waiting desperately to see what happens next. In the words of the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz, “Curse you and thank you”, author David Dalglish. Thank you for an incredible book. And curses that I have to wait until 2024 for the next one in the series. Make sure to pick this one up, folks!


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