Book Review

We Lie With Death By Devin Madson

We Lie with Death

  • Author: Devin Madson
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Date: January 12, 2021
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Series: The Reborn Empire #2

Thank you to Orbit and Angie Man for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: violence, blood, murder, gore

There is no calm after the storm.

In Kisia’s conquered north, former empress Miko Ts’ai is more determined than ever to save her empire. Yet, as her hunt for allies grows increasingly desperate, she may learn too late that power lies not in names but in people.

Dishiva e’Jaroven is fiercely loyal to the new Levanti emperor. Only he can lead them, but his next choice will challenge everything she wants to believe about her people’s future.

Abandoned by his Second Swords, Rah e’Torin must learn to survive without a herd. But honor dictates he bring his warriors home—a path that could lead to his salvation or his destruction.

And sold to the Witchdoctor, Cassandra Marius searches desperately for a cure, which ties her fate to Empress Hana, and the truth of her affliction could condemn them both.

After reading the first book in this series (We Ride the Storm), I couldn’t wait to jump into this book. And I have to say that I’m so happy to discover that Madson lived up to the extraordinarily high expectations that I had going into this. I was automatically impressed by the inclusion of a recap of the story thus far, and a listing of the cast of characters. This is something that’s especially helpful, and I wish more books had this, particularly when I don’t always have time to do a full reread before starting the latest book.

There are some shifts in this story. First of all, we shift from 3 POV characters to 4, with the addition of Dishiva, a new character in the Levanti herd, a Captain who is devoted to Gideon. Her inclusion in this story gives us important information about what is going on with Gideon and other aspects of the story, which we wouldn’t be able to get any other way. Also, the story changes from a plot-driven one to more of a character-driven one, as we delve more deeply into who the characters are and learn more about what is happening behind the scenes. It also involves some build-up for what is going to happen in the next book, while also answering some important questions.

To start with, Cassandra’s chapters were not only fascinating, but her character arc was fantastic. She starts out in the hands of the Witchdoctor, where she was seeking a cure, but didn’t quite get what she was hoping for. Instead, she finds her situation deteriorating rapidly, and seeks an escape. However, it isn’t as easy as she thinks, and she’s forced to work with Empress Hana, naturally getting into some funny and some dangerous situations.

I’m still firmly on Team Rah, even as he doesn’t necessarily change as much as some of our other characters. His insistence on strict adherence to his rigid moral code makes it difficult for him be flexible, even in situations where it would help him, and often makes his life more difficult than it needs to be. But I have to respect a man who puts his morals before his safety or comfort, even on behalf of his warriors who don’t necessarily want anything to do with him. He’s also pushed into working with an unexpected new college, and I loved seeing how that played out. 

Miko is just as smart and cunning as ever, and watching her get through even more dangers was an endless source of intrigue. But as her search for allies is more and more fruitless and she has less options available, it was starting to feel hopeless. But of course there’s something up Madson’s sleeve, because there’s plenty of political maneuvering going on in Miko’s parts of the story. I loved watching her rely on her brains as much as possible, but not hesitate to use physical force when it called for it.

Finally, Dishiva. Her chapters threw me off at first, because I was already invested in the other characters and took some time to get used to her. But she grew on me pretty quickly, and I liked her direct and no-nonsense approach. As a leader, she knew when to pick her battles, and was really effective. But her growth came on fairly quickly when she started seeing some questionable things surrounding Gideon.

Usually stories that involve a lot of build-up to the next book don’t have a lot of action, but this one involved a lot of both. One of my favorite parts was the way that a lot of questions were answered, but now I have more questions that I’ll need to keep reading to find out. The world-building was expanded, especially with the aspects of religion and the role that Dom Leo plays in his religion, and it made me want to scream when I found out. I can’t wait to start the next book, especially with the cliffhanger ending, and it makes me so glad that I have it sitting on my shelf waiting for me.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 13

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