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The Ruined City by Paula Brandon
Review by Mel Jacob
Spectra Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553583823
Date: 28 February 2012 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Ruined City is the second novel in the Belandor series. The threat to humans and the Veiled Islands continues. If the Source that powers all magic is not cleansed, the Overmind will return, destroy humanity, and reclaim the world. Only if the arcane members of the six houses can overcome grievances and work together, can they accomplish the task.

Celisse, sister to the physician Falaste, plans to kill the Taerleezi governor, but fails to rally support among the rebel fighters. She leaves and Falaste, determined to stop her suicidal mission, follows accompanied by Jianna. He fears his sister will end dead, but may also harm the rebel cause.

Meanwhile, after Aureste, Jianna's father, destroyed Ironheart, the fortress where Jianna had been held captive, and had killed one nephew and mutilated the other, Onartino, leaving him for dead. The iron-willed mother, Yvenza, takes his corpse for burial, but has Nissi, a strange young girl with arcane powers, draw Onartino's spirit back to life.

Aureste makes a bargain with the wife of a rival arcane imprisoned because of false evidence planted by Aureste to save his brother Innesq. Once conscious, Innesq marshals the arcane of the six families including Taerlessians to join him in purifying the Source. Long aware of Nissi, he asks her join them.

Yvenza sees this as an opportunity to take her revenge on Aureste and agree to take Nissi to joint the other arcane. Clever, malicious, and determined, she manipulates Aureste's hereditary enemy. Nissi joins with the other arcane to bolster their efforts against the Overmind.

Jianna returns to Vitrisi only to find the city in partial ruins, Belandor House largely destroyed, and her father and uncle gone. Her other uncle, Nalio, works on the restoration and plans to send Jianna off to marry her betrothed despite her objections.

Onartino, gradually recovering his strength, set off to find and reclaim Jianna. Even in his mutilated state, he retains his strength and determination. To others, he appears like one of the plague victims and is shunned by people.

The novel, like The Traitor's Daughter, ends without resolution with the main characters in jeopardy. Jianna's brutish husband still seeks to reclaim her and the Source remains contaminated. The Overmind growing stronger and reality become tenuous. Brandon has indicated she wrote the trilogy as one novel and then broke it into three parts hence the abrupt endings of the first two novels. The Wanderers will complete the trilogy.

Brandon creates believable characters and even manages to create sympathy for them despite their despicable actions. She kills some of them off, but the main ones continue. The Shismandri, a newt-like race (think the Geico Gecko) with a humanoid appearance, show they are more than a slave race. The arcane Grix Orlazzu, last of the House of Orlazzu, and his robot provide a few lighter moments. Both he and the Shismandri are certain to take a critical part in The Wanderers.

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