My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I reviewed Book 1 in this series, Catalyst Moon: Incursion, I wrote “I’m glad I read this book, and I do want to know what happens to the characters. But I wish I didn’t have to wait so long to find out.”
It turns out I didn’t have to wait very long at all. Book 2, Breach, is here, and it’s significantly better than Book 1. The characters and relationships are more complex, and the story more riveting. Now there are so many threads to be resolved that I am wondering if the author has bitten off more than she can chew. Like Incursion, this volume does not stand on its own, and it leads you to want to read the next book in the series to find out what happens.
Breach essentially picks up where Incursion left off, with Stonewall and Kali separated and Kali beginning to receive magical treatment for her bad knee, the ostensible purpose of the trip that set this whole thing in motion. For a magical system that is otherwise quite well thought out, I think Kali’s knee poses a “transporter problem.” Like the transporter in Star Trek, the magic of this world should be capable of solving almost any problem a human writer can throw at it. But since that would make for a less dramatic story, the author has to set up some artificial obstacles and constraints that the technology (or magic) can’t easily solve. That is what Kali’s knee problem feels like to me. Magic that can cure the deathly ill and that works by rearranging fundamental subatomic particles is not going to be stopped by a limp. So I am wondering if there is more to Kali’s knee problem than we’ve been told so far. We don’t find out much in this installment.
We do, however, find out much more about Stonewall/Elan in Breach. His struggles with learning to lead his squad, with learning to read and write, and with his feelings about the reappearance of his long-lost brother, round him out as a character and lift this story above a simple cliched romance. I continued to enjoy the romantic plot between Stonewall and Kali, although it is a little sappy at times. And the fact that sentinels in this world don’t seem to live past age 40 very often would make the love story tragic enough even without all the other stuff going on.
The subplot involving Eris, Gid and the other mages also starts to take off in this book (literally). In Incursion, I found these characters somewhat puzzling and annoying, but here they find their voice. The author herself seems to be going through a similar process of finding her voice, and it is a pleasure to watch it happen.