the kingdom of Rustannica, Emperor Vespasian finds his realm in
trouble. They are nearly devoid of gold, and if they do not find a
way to turn their fortune around, it is likely that they will fall
at the hands of Shashida, the neighboring realm that gathers power
from the Vigors.
Vespasian devises a plan with the help of the Vagaries-leaning Pon
Q'tar, led by Gracchus Junius, to seize the Shashidan gold mines
and strike a deadly blow. He hopes to ultimately overrun Shashida
and wipe out the Vigors once and for all. Even with his attention
on the homeland, one eye must remain across the Tolenka Mountains
and the kingdom of Eutracia.
It is there that Prince Tristan and his twin sister, Shailiha,
continue to learn the abilities inherent in their endowed blood as
they seek to unite the two sides of the craft --- the Vagaries and
the Vigors. Unlike Vespasian, they believe that if either side of
the magic world were to be eradicated, the world would suffer dire
consequences. Each needs the other, and Tristan, together with his
Conclave, seeks to find a way across the Tolenkas so that they may
unite with the Shashidans. Such a pathway has proven impossible
until a simple twist of fate unveils the existence of subtle
matter, which provides them with the answer they need to possibly
make their endeavor a success.
Yet all is not well, as a new and savage power has been unleashed
by a long-dormant spell. Khristos, the Viper Lord, has risen from a
stream in Hartwick Wood. The lover of Coven leader Failee, he does
not know that she is dead and begins his march of terror across
Eutracia. When Gracchus reaches out to him and gains his trust, the
two strike a plan to bring down Tristan and Shailiha and secure the
land for the power of the Vagaries.
With this third volume in The Destinies of Blood and
Stone, Robert Newcomb has found a solid voice and delivered an
outstanding adventure. Within these pages is an astounding
imagination and a world that is growing all the more intriguing as
readers continue to explore it. He provides exceptional visual
references that help bring the world to life and enough new twists
and moments of intrigue to keep readers on edge.
The standard characters from the previous books all return here,
and their stories continue to lure you in further. Perhaps the
strongest addition to the line is Khristos. Part human, part viper,
he is driven by his love for the fallen Failee and his sense of
revenge. This is all the more interesting as he was also a victim
of her power, becoming the monster he is only because she twisted
him to her will. His is a story of tragedy, and yet his involvement
in this book is bloody and destructive.
Newcomb does a fantastic job in story shift; one chapter sees us
within the halls of Emperor Vespasian's court and the other finds
us back in Eutracia, watching as