Reviewed by Robyn-Lee Samuels
The company must separate to save their friends in this adventurous and action-packed sequel
The Tempter’s Bane is the second book in Kyle McCurry debut series, The Drifters’ Road. This classically influenced epic fantasy picks up immediately after the events of the first book The Fleeing Company, where Adroegen and his friends are heading north. But then a pack of goblins and wolves attack them.
With Adroegen injured, and the rest of the crew barely recovered, the goblin pack kidnaps Caitren and sets off to take her to the evil lord Vyroun who is gathering an army to wage war on the kingdoms of their land.
In the heat of the battle, Adroegen falls off a cliff and the remaining four suspect the worst. The group splits up in hopes of finding their friends. Edelbir and Kattalin search for Adroegen, while Gleowan and Vaenn race to rescue Caitren from the goblin pack before it is too late.
Continuing in the vein of book one, McCurry employs a shifting narration, moving from omniscient to first-person and even second-person at key moments in the plot. McCurry’s control of the shifting narration brings a sense of intimacy and mystery to the tone as we continue wondering who this narrator is.
Rather than receiving only one point of view character like book one, this sequel has multiple. With Adroegen missing and the company separating, the additional points of view make a lot of sense. The chapters switch between Edelbir and Kattalin, who are looking for Adroegen and potential allies for the coming war; Gleowan and Vaenn; and Caitren.
In these new points of view, readers discover much more of the world: new hidden kingdoms, different magical races. We have an opportunity to see how vast this world truly is. There are elves, fairies, dwarves, witches, and even a race of trees. This expansion of the worldbuilding makes for a fresh and full reading experience after the introduction to the world in book one.
The shifting POVs also help keep the action going. McCurry paces this one beautifully, knowing when to dive deeper into a specific arc and when to come up for air at just the right time with others. The characterization also improves thanks to the additional points of view. We get to know the company far better by uncovering secrets from their pasts and hearing the stories from their perspective. Overall, this change in the storytelling adds a lot of value to an already strong start to the series.
It is hard not to compare these first two books to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien’s influence and inspiration is evident in the lyrical prose and the scenes that mirror the classic trilogy in themes and tropes. Common themes in The Tempter’s Bane include redemption, free will, temptation, and the fight of good versus evil. Lovers of Tolkien will appreciate the McCurry’s writing style and the easter eggs hidden throughout.
Although it is the second book in the series, The Tempter’s Bane stands well on its own. Author Kyle McCurry scatters bits of exposition throughout the narrative to fill in key information from the first book when necessary. In fact, the series arc gives readers flexibility to start with book two and then read book one if they really want to.
With more action and more insight into our leading characters, The Tempter’s Bane comes as an easy recommendation from me for young adult and advanced middle grade readers.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: YA / Fantasy
Print Length: 380 pages
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