As the Shadow Rises by Katy Rose Pool
The Last Prophet has been found, yet he sees destruction ahead.
In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed There Will Come a Darkness, kingdoms have begun to fall to a doomsday cult, the magical Graced are being persecuted, and an ancient power threatens to break free. But with the world hurtling toward its prophesized end, Anton’s haunting vision reveals the dangerous beginnings of a plan to stop the Age of Darkness.
As Jude, Keeper of the Order of the Last Light, returns home in disgrace, his quest to aid the Prophet is complicated by his growing feelings for Anton. Meanwhile, the assassin known as the Pale Hand will stop at nothing to find her undead sister before she dies for good, even if it means letting the world burn. And in Nazirah, Hassan, the kingdom-less Prince, forms a risky pact to try to regain his throne. When the forces of light and darkness collide in the City of Mercy, old wounds are reopened, new alliances are tested, and the end of the world begins.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The end of the world begins indeed!
Picking up almost immediately after where we left off in There Will Come a Darkness, As the Shadow Rises is ready to explore the consequences of our POV characters’ actions in the previous book. Everything they’ve learned, everything they’ve sacrificed is sliding into place in a greater scheme, even as it all unravels.
Jude and Anton must reckon with the Order and broken oaths. Hassan grapples with the damage to his beloved city, Nazirah. And as Beru searches for a way to escape her half-life entirely, Ephyra does everything in her power and then some to prevent it from coming to pass.
There are no easy choices. In this series, there never were.
“There’s something dark inside of us.”
I think what makes As the Shadow Rises so strong of a sequel is its commitment to bad choices. Not bad choices on the author’s part, but bad choices from the characters. Though they have good intentions, even loving ones, their actions have consequences that ripple out into the wider reaches of Pelagos. And when their intentions are far from good?
Friends, I am fragile.
Truth be told, this feels like a section I should dedicate to Ephyra. The other four main characters mostly find their motivation in noble goals, or at least goals that seek to do more good than harm. And while Ephyra’s quest is to save Beru’s life, she’s willing to do terrible things along the way. Unlike the other characters, she crosses lines so much more readily, and with much less deliberation. She will quite literally do anything for Beru, and it absolutely wrecks me.
Even worse? When she thinks she’s out of options, she’s as self-destructive as it gets. That, really, is what makes Ephyra my favorite character. Sometimes, she doesn’t have an angle. Sometimes, she loses sight of her purpose. And when that happens, all hell breaks loose. It’s a fantastic character study of what happens when a good character spirals out of control and knows they’re making bad decisions, and it’s intensely refreshing to read about.
And of course, the rest of the cast was a joy in so many ways. Anton and Jude remain a delightful duo even under pressure, Hassan is trying so hard to navigate life in Nazirah under the Hierophant’s control, and Beru aims to do something right with her stolen life before her revenant body fails at last. But at the end of the day, Ephyra is absolutely my favorite, and a shining example of how to make a complex, flawed character worth rooting for.
As the Shadow Rises also excels in opening up the world of Pelagos!
Previously, with all the characters wandering Pallas Athos, we didn’t get much of a chance to explore the wider world. Now, though, with everyone scattered to the winds in the wake of the Hierophant’s actions in Nazirah, it’s an entirely new place. I loved our trip further into the desert, both in the cities along the way and the landmarks in between. Glimpsing other cities and wonders, too, like the Floating Gardens labeled on the map, was a treat (though I’m biased toward this one because it’s just such a beautiful concept)!
I do wish that the new supporting cast had half the charm of the expanded world, though. Really, I think this is the one part of As the Shadow Rises that didn’t stick the landing. Ephyra in particular gets to accompany a new miniature cast, and in the end, I felt like a number of leads fell away where there could have been greater substance. I mean, if you’re going to have characters withhold secrets, at least tie it in to the broader plot?
And if you’re going to hand me a group of thieves, don’t squander them, I’m begging you. Yes, this is about Parthenia and Numir, and no, I will not accept anything less than further backstory. I’m getting sapphic warrior/librarian vibes and refuse to back down. (Plus, Ephyra’s initial reaction to Parthenia? Bi as hell. Please let her be bi.)
Anyway, that little drawback doesn’t outweigh the enjoyment I got out of As the Shadow Rises, not by any means! It remains a fantastic series, and the new world-building really shines. The addition of new locales breathes life in the setting, and the added lore? The Relics?
Precisely my kind of thing. 👀
So, happy book birthday to As the Shadow Rises!
It’s out on shelves now, so you no longer have to wait to see what these five teenage disasters are up to! And cut them some slack, will you? They’re all under twenty and trying to intimidate a prophecy into going their way. Pretty bold of them, and damn exhausting, I’m sure. (Can you tell that I really just want to protect all five of them? 🥺)
If you loved There Will Come a Darkness, it’s time to get to this sequel as soon as you can. Based on As the Shadow Rises alone, I think we’re in for an absolute storm of a finale when the last book arrives…
CW: violence, gambling, loss of a loved one, suicide, human trafficking