Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky Shadows of the Apt #3

The Lowlands is at war with the wasp empire and both sides are looking for the upper hand in this ever evolving struggle. At the heart of this war is the search for the dreaded shadow box and the deadly magic it contains within. The Collegium will stop at nothing to keep the box from falling into the empire’s hands and avoid annihilation. If you are revisiting the Lowlands then buckle up as your are in for a nail bitter. If this is your first visit to the Lowlands, please see my review of book 1 and jump on this train because it is moving full speed ahead. This will be a spoiler free review, but I will be touching upon events that that place in the first 2 books.

Totho has betrayed the Collegium and joined the ranks of the wasp empire. In fact, it was his design of the the cross bow which turned the tides in the battle for Sarn and ultimately gave the victory to the wasp empire. In his last act of humanity, Totho releases the captured Cheerwell Maker and gives her the designs for his cross bow for the Collegium to have any hope in the war. Back at the Collegium, Stenwold Maker has captured the wasp general Thalric and is aware of the plan of the empire to recover shadow box and to unleash the deadly magic within. Achaeos, driven by the ghost of the Darakyon forest, decides to go searching for the box in the marsh town of Jerez with Tisamon, Tynisa, Thalric, and Stenwold. The empire however is looking for the box as well and the vampiric mosquito-kinden Uctebri will need the magic of the shadow box to unleash his ultimate goal on the world. The search is on!

Blood of the Mantis is definitely a middle book type of story and focuses more of the plot on character development and shocking moments. There are no major 50 page battles like we see in the first 2 books, but Adrian does show us a fun aircraft battle with one of my new favorite characters Taki. The build-up and tension can be nerve wreaking at times and it will leaving you wanting more for the big events to come in book 4, Salute the Dark. Tisamon is still my favorite character by far as he is constantly questioning his motives as an honorable mantis-kindle, while training his daughter Tynisa and wanting to take this war into his own hands. Achaeos really shines in this book as we get more of a deep dive into his seer abilities, more details about the Moth-kinden, and the hidden truth behind the origins of the Darakyon. If you thought the series couldn’t get any better, I am sorry to say that you are sadly mistaken!

I have said this many times but the Shadows of the Apt is the most under rated epic fantasy series I have ever read! I also see very little coverage of it in all media forums. These books are very close to my heart and the fact that they are being rereleased in book and audio format means everyone will have a chance to experience this masterpiece. The audiobooks are narrated by Ben Allen and I can’t get over how amazing he is at bringing these beloved characters to life. I promise that if you are an audiobook fan, this is a must listen! The ground work is set for book 4 and it will leave you guessing until the very end. Don’t let this series pass you by for one more day. Bloody read it!

Cheers!

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