The Spirit Eater (2010) is the third installment in Rachel Aaron’s THE LEGEND OF ELI MONPRESS series. Just like the first two books, The Spirit Thief and The Spirit Rebellion, it’s an entertaining, fast-moving fantasy story, although this newest novel does have a considerably darker edge to it.
The darkness starts right away with the novel’s prologue, in which we learn more about Nico, the girl who contains a demonseed, and about how she met Josef Liechten, the swordsman with the legendary Heart of War sword. Berek Sted, no longer a member of the League of Storms and out for revenge against Josef, makes a deal with a demon (and of course we all know how those tend to work out…). Meanwhile Eli, Josef and Nico are on the run (the high bounty placed on Eli’s head makes staying undiscovered harder and harder) and spiritualist Miranda, in an interesting new twist, is hired by the Council of Thrones to become an unofficial “Eli Chief Investigator”, because of her past experiences dealing with Eli…
And so another action-packed fantasy adventure starts. The Spirit Eater mostly has the same strengths and weaknesses as the prior two books in the series. On the one hand, it’s once again an entertaining, fast-moving and occasionally funny story. You won’t be bored, that’s for sure. Rachel Aaron gives the impression that she simply enjoys writing, and that enjoyment is contagious. Her prose has a fun, sly tone to it that’s genuinely enjoyable to read. There’s also an exciting “boss fight” (to borrow a video game term) towards the end of the book, featuring a really neat fantasy weapon that combines a few elements from the earlier novels in a way I absolutely didn’t see coming.
The world of THE LEGEND OF ELI MONPRESS also continues to take shape. We learn more about the exact nature of the demonseeds, the League of Storms, and the relationship between Eli and Benehime, to name just a few. The Spirit Thief, the first book in the series, was set on a relatively small scale and didn’t fill in many world-building details. After finishing The Spirit Eater, you’ll have a much better idea of what’s really going on — and the last few pages add yet another intriguing layer.
On the other hand, the novel again plays fast and loose with plotting and has a few twists that are less than plausible. It’s often best not to take everything too seriously and just go along for the ride. Despite the darker edge of the story and the new world-building details, these books are still more about entertainment than depth, but if you’ve read and enjoyed the first two books, you should have no problem with this and will probably love The Spirit Eater, as it’s the best book of the bunch so far. As long as you haven’t suddenly lost your ability to suspend disbelief, you’ll probably have a good time with the newest Eli Monpress novel.