Sacred Scars, the second book in the A Resurrection of Magic trilogy, picks up immediately where the action in Skin Hunger leaves off. Told with the same style of focusing on the two main characters, Sadima and Hahp, in alternating chapters, the book starts with Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss living in a mysterious complex of caves and tunnels outside the main city of Limori, and Hahp trying to figure out how to survive the magical training he is undergoing at the hands of sadistic wizards.
Kathleen Duey writes beautiful sparse prose that evokes a stark and terrible world while still illuminating quiet moments of peace and happiness.
My only complaint with Sacred Scars is that the story drags. While Duey does flesh out the Erideans, a third alternative to the wizards-versus-kings dynamic set up in the first book, it feels like the main characters don’t grow throughout most of the story. There is a lot of repetition in both main plot lines. It feels as if Sadima spends the first part of the book trying to convince Franklin to run away with her, repeating many of the same arguments from the first book, and the last two thirds making cheese. Hahp spends most of the book worrying that he is going to get killed for the things he is learning. Sacred Scarssuffers from the lack of Somiss — both as a villain and as someone who can explain his side of the story. Without him, the book feels more like a documentary than a drama. However, the last few chapters finally pick up the narrative pace, and some shocking events thrust the action into the forefront again. The battlefield has definitely been set up for the concluding book.
This is a common problem for second volumes in trilogies — the action can’t be resolved yet, but the author needs to get the story from the introduction set forth in the first volume to the conclusion in the third. While Sacred Scars does suffer slightly from that affliction, the quality of the writing is high enough that it is still a pleasure to read if you are willing to shift from the character-driven first novel to the politically-driven second. I was willing, and I am eagerly anticipating the conclusion to this dark and gripping trilogy.
A Resurrection of Magic — (2007-2008) Young adult. Publisher: Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A “magician” stole her family’s few valuables and left Sadima’s mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima’s joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin’s irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision. Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate — and the first academic requirement is survival. Sadima’s and Hahp’s worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey’s dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.