[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
I read Arrow of the Mist in 2013, and I was interested in knowing how Lia’s story went on. Like its predecessor, Arms of Anu is a fast read that makes you want to get to the next chapter to see what happens, and how the characters will solve the problems at hand. In this one, Lia also remains a strong person, true to her beliefs, as well as willing to act and use her powers to protect her people and country; however, she also has to contend with another threat, one she hadn’t sensed coming, and this time, the battle is as much with herself as with external forces.
The writing was flowing and consistent—not too complex, since fit for a younger audience, but still able to carry good descriptions. I only found a couple of misprints, nothing more, and no sentence struck me as particularly odd. As with the first book, I had no problems picturing my surroundings in this story; it had just the right amount of descriptive language to make me feel immersed, without drowning me under too much.
I enjoyed the first part of the novel more than the second one, though, probably because the later chapters involve travelling, and I tend to be more at ease with fantasy that happens in more constricted settings, such as cities. (I have to mention this; another reader may not have the same qualms in that regard.) I absolutely loved the part in Anu, where Lia and Wynn had to face the king’s wrath, and find a way to escape a certain death. Lia’s magic was involved in useful ways, she managed to find an unexpected ally, and I was glad that she wasn’t cast in the Damsel In Distress role.
The second half, on the other hand, left me wanting for more (partly because Kelven was rather too passive in it in my opinion). While interesting—it deals more deeply with Lia’s predicament regarding Brume—it seemed both too slow (travelling) and too rushed, especially when the ending came in sight. There was potential for a lot more in this story, for a more complex type of narrative, but once the threads came together at the end, I still wanted more. This is mainly about the plot with the Hawks and what happens in Anu while Lia and Kelven are away. We see those two a lot, whereas the rest of the cast is totally forgotten for a while… yet is definitely doing something,(show spoiler)
This plot and those characters deserved more spotlight. As a result, I thought Wynn, Holly, and a certain ally were left on the side.(show spoiler)
There could’ve been such a strong parallel plot here, but to me, it appeared as brushed over at the end, as a kind of afterthought to explain what happened in the meanwhile. I regretted not getting to know those characters more, and I would’ve wished for more development when it came to the Hawks’ motivations. (And I doubt that a MG/YA audience would be too young to follow such a plot, anyway.)
I’d give this book a higher rating, if not for the characters and subplots that were put on a bus at some point, because overall, the story and atmosphere were definitely enjoyable.