Title / The Spider
Author / Leo Carew
Publication Date / 2019
Page no. / 340
Overall Rating / ★★★★
This is the second book in the Under the Northern Sky trilogy. It follows closely after the events of the first book, the Wolf. Once again, we follow the main protagonist, Roper, as he tries to secure his position as Black Lord, as well as Bellamus, a highly intelligent Sutherner who aims to bring Roper down. The world is split between the Anakim in the north and the Sutherners in the south. These two kingdoms are in conflict and one of the main plot points focuses on the war between them. While in the first book the Sutherners were the aggressors, in this instalment the Anakim are the aggressors by invading the south. Like the Wolf, it is an epic fantasy book with military fantasy influences, and it is told using multiple perspectives. As this is a sequel, I will not be discussing the plot in any depth to avoid spoilers.
The Spider is split into two main plot points; the mystery surrounding a death at an Anakim school in the north and the invasion into the south, which we see from both sides of the conflict. In this instalment, we get more intrigue, as well as well written battle sequences. It is clear that Carew is skilled in writing action scenes and that is one of the highlights of these books. His writing, however, sometimes falls a little flat in the quieter scenes, which occasionally results in uneven pacing. Having said that, I do think Carew is a great writer and that you can see his growth between the first and second book. The world is an interesting one, although it is lacking in depth and it is nothing new in terms of the fantasy genre. Both the Anakim and the Sutherners are more defined in this book, although the focus is very clearly on the Anakim. We get to see more about their lives and spend time in one of their schools. We are also introduced to a new race, the Unhieru, although we don’t learn a whole lot about them. I hope that we will get to explore more of the world in the next instalment.
Like the Wolf, this instalment contains a compelling story, although I did feel that it was a little predictable at times. In this instalment, there is a betrayal within the main protagonist’s inner circle. We are told who the betrayer is at the start of the book, but I think it would have been better if the reader had found out at the same time as the characters. It would have created a more suspenseful and mysterious atmosphere, instead I just felt frustrated that none of the characters figured out who it was, even though it seemed obvious to me. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the death at an Anakim school and thought Carew did a good job at weaving this into the main narrative of the conflict that started in book 1. Overall, I enjoyed the continuation of the plot and I found it easy to settle back into the flow of the story, since it had been a while since I read the first book.
While I thought the character development was well done in this sequel, I did find the main protagonist incredibly frustrating throughout. He is supposed to be the leader of the Anakim and an intelligent man, but in my opinion, he didn’t act like one most of the time. He rarely listened to any advice given to him and just did what he wanted to do. I still think he is a good protagonist and Carew has done a good job at developing him from book one, but he made so many bad decisions in this book. I did enjoy the development of the relationship between Roper and Keturah. The secondary characters are well written with distinct personalities and interesting back stories. I am intrigued to see what is in store for them in the third book.
Overall, I thought this was a great instalment and I can’t wait to check out the final chapter of this trilogy. It’s not anything new in terms of the fantasy genre and I had a few issues with it, but it’ still well worth a read, especially if you enjoy fantasy with plenty of intrigue and military elements. If you enjoyed the first book, then I think you’ll enjoy this one too. The third and final book currently has no release date or cover. I will definitely be picking it up when it is released – based on the publication of the last two books, it may be released sometime next year. If you haven’t started this trilogy yet, then I recommend checking it out. Have you read this book? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.