I received an ARC from the author in exchange for a honest review. The long anticipated sequel to the SPFBO #7 finalist The Iron Crown has finally arrived and exceeds every expectation I could have had for a sequel. I was on the SPFBO team that selected The Iron Crown to be our finalist so I know full well what the author is capable of and the potential this series possesses. You will not be disappointed in the least when it comes time to diving into this beauty! This will be a spoiler free review but I will be discussing events from the previous novel.
Fenn is still trying to put the pieces together of his lost memories while dealing with the war and destruction going on in the world around him. Cursed by the Myr and blessed by the Dragon Spirit Hassen, Fenn will need to traverse the hazardous sea with Apollo in order to find the Citrine Key so he can regain his memories once more. There will be a terrible price to pay if Fenn continues down this path. Calidra is once again reunited with her sister Malora, who is the wife to Apollo, and their daughter Renys. Calidra is still looking to lift the curse from her lover Jisyel but she may have bigger fish to fry in the upcoming war with the Myr.
Malora turns out was once blessed by a Dragon Spirit as well before she met Apollo but has since turned away from the blessing and it has disappeared. Malora may need to find that blessing once more. Torsten is still the evil henchmen of the queen and looking for Fenn believing he is the cause for all of the Myr reappearing. He starts to play the long game with all parties involved and Torsten may be looking to make a dynamic shift in the game ahead. Their are some new characters introduced to the story as well but I will leave those for the reader to discover.
The name of the game in The Shadow Gate is fast the pacing and action. There is a lot less worldbuilding in this sequel with the fights and battles scenes are notched up to a ten out of ten. We also learn a lot more out the Dragon Spirits and how their blessings work, as well as the fact that some spirits do not like each other. I was not prepared for the shocking revelations this book unveiled especially towards to end. All of the pieces fell into place flawlessly setting up for the epic concluding volume. There is a bit of a slow burn in the middle portion of the story but that is needed for the ending to really hit in all the right places.
The Shadow Gate was one on my most anticipated novels for 2023 and was was worth every second reading it. If you enjoy emotional character moments with Dragon Spirits, magic, and gryphons then give this series a chance. You will be glad you did.