Amber And Iron
Book Two of The Dark Disciple
by Margaret Weis, fantasy (2006)
Wizards Of The Coast, $7.99, ISBN 0-7869-4086-7


Good heaven, who edited this thing? Amber And Iron is riddled with missing words, awkward grammar, and continuity issues (a character who is already in the scene yet somehow making a grand entrance in the next scene, for example). There are also format issues, such as sentences meant to be thoughts not being italicized but instead presented in standard font. Also, there are many moments where, in a scene presented from a specific character's point view, the character manages to refer to things that this character should not be aware of, such as the thoughts of another character. Reading this book can be annoying at times due to all these technical issues. And I am not a reader who usually notices these things! I think the editor must have been too busy recovering from hangovers instead of doing any actual editing on this thing.

Anyway, on to the story. This is an actual sequel, so you really shouldn't be reading this book if you haven't read the previous book Amber And Ashes. In this review, I will try to be as vague as possible because revealing any specific detail could very well lead to the spoiling of the previous book.

So, where were we? In this book, Mina and Chemosh start having some marital crisis, let's just say, when Chemosh begins to realize that Mina is becoming so powerful that not only does she have him, the God of Death, under her sway, she also commands his legion of minions - minions that refuse to listen to him. Nuitari, our charming evil god of magic, begins making his play, not only over his two cousins Lunitari and Solinari but also over the other gods. Zeboim is still here, funny and bitchy as ever. Rhys Mason gets a major upgrade in terms of characterization as his religious conflict rises to the forefront. In fact, one can argue that this book is Rhys' story rather than Mina's. And finally, the method to destroy the apparently invincible Beloved of Chemosh is revealed - and I have to say, this method is a deliciously sick and twisted one that would have made me fall in love with Chemosh if he weren't such a terrible Jean-Claude wannabe.

The good thing about this story is that it is unexpectedly hilarious despite the gravity of the overall storyline. If you have read The Death Gate Cycle that Margaret Weis helped co-write with Tracy Hickmann, you may understand what I am saying when I call this book the Elven Star or Serpent Mage of the series. Rhys becomes a full-bloom memorable reluctant hero and I really like that. Meanwhile, Zeboim is still entertaining me to no end while Nuitari is quite the charming sneaky little devil. Also, Dalamar the Dark and Jenna, whom you may remember as the incorrigible and rebellious daughter of Justarius who had since become the head of the Red Robes, make appearances that are relevant to the storyline. And yes, still no Lord Soth, Raistlin, or Tas. Thank god.

On the downside, apart from the irritating technical problems that riddle this story, this story still presents a fragmented and even schizophrenic Mina. To be fair, the dramatic revelation at the end of this book about Mina's true nature (not that you will be surprised by this one if you have been paying attention to the clues set down by Ms Weis) could very well be used as an excuse to explain this. Not that I am happy with such an excuse, of course. I really wish Mina is a more compelling character given that this trilogy revolves around her. Instead of being a titular character, she's just a weak, whiny, and schizophrenic twit.

Amber And Iron definitely sees much of the momentum that was built in the previous book dissipating due to the reasons I've explained above. However, I can't get off the train, so to speak, even if I want to. And I don't. Ms Weis has me hooked into the story so deep thanks to Rhys, Zeboim, Nuitari, Nightshade, and Chemosh that I actually feel this increasingly urgent need to read the next book just to see how the story wraps up. A book which, at the time of writing, has yet to be released in mass market paperback, dang. If you want to get reeled into this trilogy, read the first book. Otherwise, skip this - this is the second book in a trilogy and if you have no emotional investment in the series, why would you read this one? But don't blame me if you do read Amber And Iron and end up hooked on Ms Weis' storytelling baits that she throws all over the place. You've been warned.

Rating: 83


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