Anyone who’s read my review of Flesh and Spirit knows that I was a little bit disappointed in some aspects of the book (I maintain that this is due to the fact that Carol Berg has left me a spoiled, fussy fantasy reader). So how did Ms. Berg do this time around?
Okay, fair enough, Breath and Bone starts a little slow. This isn’t a huge surprise, since the story is more like one book broken into two, than two separate books. Yet despite being a bit slow, it’s not as though you’re learning nothing. In fact you learn a great deal. Some of these things came as no surprise to me (likely because I had only just finished reading the first one) whereas others made my jaw hit the floor. And I simply love what Berg has done with Navronne. Things and people are just not what they first seem. It’s difficult to get into without spoiling the plot, and I’m just not that kind of girl, but really, it’s more than worth reading to find out for yourself.
The slow pace isn’t lasting and Carol Berg creates some moments of such heart stopping tension that occasionally I’d realize that I was barely breathing throughout them. I also found that Valen settled a lot more into character than he did in the first one. Perhaps this is due in part to the addition of Saverian, a salty, sharp-tongued physician who plays a lovely counterpoint to Valen. Gosh, but she’s just a fun character. And the romances in Berg’s books are always wonderfully unobtrusive things, lending to the characters’ growth without consuming the story in the slightest.
Of it all, I was very happy to see that Valen’s addiction and the consequences of it weren’t just thrown aside in this, the second book. In fact I felt that they were more pronounced, producing problems and challenges that Valen would never have been able to overcome if he hadn’t grown as a character. I still wish that Berg had delved a little deeper into the heart of the matter in the first one, rather than that “needs drug only every 28 days” thing, but like I said, I’m spoiled. Overall her elements are handled with her usual degree of talent and I’m really glad that Berg is apparently a fast writer, because I can’t wait to see what she does next.