Welcome back to the Lowlands, where the wasp empire is expanding its reach across the world with the threat of war at the doorstep of the other Kinden. If you thought there was no way Adrian Tchaikovsky could possible top the incredible ride we all experienced in Empire in Black and Gold, you are sadly mistaken. Dragonfly Falling has so many themes, twist, character growth, and the harsh realities of war that I can’t consider this sequel anything short of a triumph for the epic fantasy genre. This series is too good to not be more widely known and enjoyed in the SFF community and I’m excited to reread each book and post about my level of enjoyment once again! This will be a spoiler free review but I will be touching upon events that take place in book 1.
Totho and Salma, arrive at the ant Kinden city of Tark to spy on the menacing Wasp army. Tark is preparing for war and is mustering the troops for the eventual battle. We actually get perspectives from the ant Kinden and it was interesting to learn about there culture and abilities to communicate through each others minds. Unfortunately, Totho and Salma are mistakenly apprehended as enemy agents and taken into the wasp Kinden camp. By the time they are freed, the city is already under siege.
Over in the imperial capital the young emperor, Alvdan, rules with an iron fist and is becoming more and more melancholy about his eventually fatality. Alvdan is not married and has not produced a royal heir for succession. Every other bastard child he has fathered has been killed and buried as a enemy of war. In the basement of the throne room, he is becoming captivated by a remarkable slave, the vampiric Uctebri, who claims he knows of magic that can grant eternal life. Uctebri is a mosquito Kinden whom many have thought to be extinct. Like his cousin moth Kinden, Uctebri can see and predict the future but he needs royal blood in order for his magic to work. When Uctebri tells the emperor of a magical item known as the shadow box, Alvdan becomes ecstatic when he learns that the box can grant immortality. Alvdan sends out his generals to look for this magical artifact, without knowing that Uctebri has other plans in mind for the box.
In Collegium, meanwhile, Stenwold is still trying to persuade the city magnates to take seriously the Wasp Empire’s imminent threat to their survival. In a colorful drama involving mass warfare and personal combat, a small group of heroes must stand up against what seems like an unstoppable force. Finally, Tynisa and Tisamon are busy in training when Tisamon realizes that Tynisa is just as good a warrior as he is. Tisamon decides that Tynisa is ready for the trials of his homeland but he fears how his Kinden will react to Tynisa since she is a half breed. The past of the Mantis Kinden will be reviled and the lore of the Lowlands be expanded in great depths, but this is just the beginning.
I realize that this was a long synopsis, but I can’t stop guessing about the wonderful experience I had reading this series. That characters who stood out to me in Dragonfly Falling have to be Totho and Stenwold. Totho, having realized that his love for Cheerwell was not reciprocated, is going about his duty to protect the Lowlands from the wasp empire. Totho has to make a dark choice in this novel and the repercussion will be felt throughout the empire. The emotional shifts you will experience when reading Tothos chapters will be bone chilling to say that least. Stenwold has the weight of the world on his shoulders when trying to save the Collegium from the invading wasp empire. Drastic choices and sacrifices must be made and if his worry, Stenfold will come across a long lost companion from the past who isn’t what she seems.
Dragonfly Falling was a fantastic novel to reread after so many years. Characters, plot, war, worldbuilding, and magic are all at the top of their game and Adrian Tchaikovsky is a master of his craft. The only thing I have left to say is READ THIS SERIES! You will be glad you did.