Islevale Cycle #2
Fantasy, Time Travel
Angry Robot; May 28, 2019
4 / 5 ✪
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Time’s Demon is the second in the Islevale Cycle, proceeding the events of Time’s Children. It began with a very unexpected character, at a very unexpected time. It ended with an unexpected result, following a series of rather unexpected events. At first I thought it marked a departure from the initial book, as neither Tobias nor Mara appeared for the first third or so. But then they did, and the story proceeded. In an unexpected, if not… unpredictable manner. Let me say plainly: I couldn’t predict the turns this story took. If I had (which, I tried; I always do), they would’ve been wrong. All in all, Time’s Demon was quite an entertaining read, though if one started into it hoping to immediately continue the adventure that had just left off, they would be disappointed.
This marks the tenth book I’ve read by David B. Coe, including 6 under the pseudonym of D. B. Jackson. So, there’s that. Cool, huh? Instead setting the scene this time, here’s the official blurb:
Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan Walked back in time to prevent a war, but instead found himself trapped in an adult body, his king murdered and with an infant princess, Sofya, to protect. Now he has been joined by fellow Walker and Spanner, Mara, and together they must find a way to undo the timeline which orphaned the princess and destroyed their future. Arrayed against them are assassins who share their time-traveling powers, but have dark ambitions of their own, and the Tirribin demon, Droë, whose desperate quest for human love and Tobias leads her into alliances which threaten all of Islevale.
Time’s Demon presents another slow build, in some ways even more than that seen in the first. The hook is set and baited early on, as it was in the prior tale, but this is populated with different characters than before. Characters with their own wants and needs (and backstories), that were under utilized in the previous book. Again, it’s important to note that Tobias, Sofya and Mara will return—and that the heart of the story still very much revolves around then.
And yet, their story, while entertaining, furthers the overarching storyline very little. And so we exit Time’s Demon little further than when Time’s Children left off. That’s not to say the book accomplishes nothing. Instead, the storylines are pushed off to other characters—in particular Droë, a Tirribin notable in the first entry. Actually, her story was good enough in this that it distracted me from the lack of progression in Tobias and Mara’s tale. Until writing this review, even.
In my opinion, it was the characters of Time’s Children that made it such an entertaining read. Not only does Demon continue this trend, but builds upon it. In addition to Mara and Tobias’s backstory—as well as a new character I won’t spoil—Droë adds an unexpected element to the story. Until this book, demons (Tirribin, Belvora, Shonla, Arrokad) are viewed mostly as savage and conniving beasts, excepting maybe the rogue elements like Droë or Teelo, who still fed on humans, but occasionally interacted with them as well. Droë’s adventure wrecks this all. I mean, yeah, half the demons still eat people, but it turns out they are much more complex than I’d thought before. Additionally, the dynamic between Sofya and Tobias (and Mara) has changed—as the princess is now an infant—but not so much. It were her interactions with Tobias that sold the first book for me. While in this one her role is reduced somewhat (due to the influx of other characters’ POVs), she still represents an important member of the cast.
Time’s Demon capitalizes on the successes of Time’s Children with strong characters, immersive world-building and superior dialogue. While the expanded cast of characters did push some of my favorites from Book #1 aside for a third of the text, their arcs were more than entertaining enough to keep me ingrained. The second Islevale book does little to further the plot from the first, however (with the murdered royal family, walking back in time and such). And yet Droë’s adventure stole the show, giving anyone more than enough reason to read Time’s Demon. If you liked the first one, you’ll enjoy the second.
Time’s Demon comes out later this month. Hopefully you’ll stay at this emotional “want-to-read” level until then! YEEEEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!