The Vagrant Gods #2
Orbit Books; January 10, 2022
518 pages (paperback)
7.5 / 10 ✪
I was kindly granted an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Orbit Books for the lovely physical ARC! All opinions are my own.
Please beware spoilers for the Bladed Faith, Book #1 of the Vagrant Gods. Or you can check out my review of it HERE
Newly crowned as the Vagrant—the self-proclaimed protector of Thanet—and well on his way to becoming a god, Cyrus has had enough, storming out on the rebellion and refusing to speak to Thorda ever again. On his own now, he stalks the capital streets, still enacting the Vagrant’s vengeance, driven by the grinning mask and silver crown and an ever-growing bloodlust.
More worrying still, Cyrus can now manifest the grinning mask even when he’s not wearing it. Not to mention the voices that whisper to him in the dark.
But the Vagrant isn’t the only god on Thanet.
The Heir Incarnate has arrived on the isle, ready to begin his ascendance. Rumors persist of resurrected Lycaena, now a goddess of blood and death. The slain Endarius still lives on through Mari, battling gods humbled by the Everlorn Empire. And somewhere on the island, the ghost of Dagon lurks, the former god of Thanet ready to once more reclaim his rightful place.
So many gods on such a little island. Surely they’ll play nice.
“ Some gods live on after their deaths, and some die while they yet live. “
A decent followup to the Bladed Faith, the Sapphire Altar continues the telling of Cyrus and the Vagrant’s tales in an interesting manner—however, not quite in the way I was hoping.
After the revelations of Book 1, I was hoping for a deep-dive into just what it meant to be a god. With Cyrus competing with the Vagrant’s growing influence, I expected a much more internal struggle, one that was only partly addressed in text, and not with any semblance of urgency. What I was hoping for was a spiritual journey, a mystical journey, and a reflection on what it means to be human. I had hoped this would combine with the burgeoning story of revenge to create something new and unique, and highly immersive. As it is, we get really none of the spiritual journey, glimpses of the mystical one, and the continued bloody swath of revenge from the first book. Don’t get me wrong—the Sapphire Altar is still a good read, I’d just hoped that the series was going in a different direction.
Whereas Cyrus is the focal point in the first book, in the second he splits the stage with Keles—Rayan’s daughter and former Paladin of Lycaena. Her story seemed to be… hasty. Not as well written or thought out as previous arcs; I found some of her decisions brainless if not nonsensical, but I suppose such is the same of humanity.
While I wasn’t enjoying this read as much as its predecessor, there was still the inclusion of interesting characters Rayan and Eshiel and Sinshei that kept me reading. Fortunately, at the… 65% mark everything devolved into chaos (the good kind of chaos). It was then that the story finally hit its stride. And drank me in. As weak as I found the middle of the Sapphire Altar, the end was strong enough to make up for it. Multiple jaw-dropping twists, lies and betrayal, mystery, mayhem, and more—the conclusion is packed with content. It’s just a shame that more wasn’t done to flesh the early and middle bits out; the book went from a borderline snooze to heart-pounding in just a few chapters. Needless to say, this makes the pacing seem wild and strange, and the story itself a bit episodic in its portrayal.
While it isn’t shaping out to be the author’s greatest series ever (I’d vote for both the Shadowdance and Keepers’ over it to be honest—though Book #3 maaay change my mind;) ), Book #2 of the Vagrant Gods delivers an interesting, ofttimes exciting adventure—immersive if you enjoyed the events of the first book and wanted nothing more than more of the same. For me, it was a bit of a letdown. I expected so much more from the relationship of Cyrus and the Vagrant: a spiritual journey into what it meant to be mortal or a god. Instead it’s the continuing tale of rebellion, with some metaphysical bits thrown in. Which is fine, just not what I was hoping for. Either way, it’s a good, entertaining, interesting read that I’d recommend for returning fans of the author and/or the Bladed Faith. Looking forward to the series’ conclusion, expected in 2024!