Review of The High King of Montival by S. M. Stirling

Rudi Mackenzie traveled to Nantucket, where he found and took up the Sword of the Lady and, with it, his destiny. His return journey to the area known as Montival, in the Pacific Northwest, is a treacherous one since he and his companions must cross three thousand miles, making both allies and adversaries along the way.
When he reaches his destination, he will face the legions of the Prophet. To achieve victory, Rudi must assemble a coalition of those who were his enemies just months before, then forge them into an army that will rescue his homeland and tear the heart out of the Church Universal and Triumphant once and for all.
Only then will Rudi be able to come to terms with how the Sword has changed him—as well as the world—and assume his place as Artos, High King of Montival…

Epic adventure? Check.
Amazing new characters? Check.
Danger? Check. Check.
An absolutely amazing continuation of a story I’ve fallen completely in love with? Check.

It certainly didn’t feel like I’d finished the book previous to this in October- but then, you’re always in the Emberverse once you’re sucked in.

There were so many different people and places we were allowed to follow and experience and read about. While I loved the direction this one went, I have questions. Firstly, why go into Canada and up to Toronto if you’re trying to get to Oregon? Regardless, I quite enjoyed all of our new characters and seeing their relationships with the characters we already knew develop. I love seeing how the characters come to terms with the fact they have been aging and changing, which I think after the Covid 19 life restrictions everyone has a bit more understanding of how unsettling it can be to see someone/something change so much in your absence.

I quite enjoy that there seem to be stakes for Rudi. I had previously mentioned to a good friend, my anamchara, who got me started on this book series that it always seemed like Juniper was a Mary Sue–this book finally showed that while luck and the Gods may be on the side of our fair Montival leader/his mother, there is still a risk and a price to be paid; that all magic has a price. Speaking of magic, while before it seemed that it could have been magic having all of technology fall, we are suddenly getting to experience what I, as a reader, (Father Ignatius would surely have a better explanation) would call magic. There is definitely danger and risks, but I absolutely adored this book; it may even be my favourite in the entire series so far. The ending, of course, was pure perfection, and again… magic.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

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