Howling Dark (The Sun Eater book 2)
Writer: Christopher Ruocchio
Publisher: DAW Books, Inc.
Reviewed by: Keturah Barchers
Twelve years have passed since Hadrian Marlow left Emesh in search of the violent Cielcin to negotiate a peace. His beloved team of myrmidons, Valka, and military personal have turned mercenary to find answers—to find the mythical planet Vorgossos. When they do find it, Hadrian comes face to face with legends long thought dead and unanticipated challenges.
There are pieces of the plot in Empire of Silence that appeared to be fluff, background information, or character development nuggets that come back with an unexpected flourish. Some elements of the story hinted toward some promising character or plotline, and Ruocchio does not prolong the wait of drawing these out more thoroughly. Enter The Quiet —welcome strange force that is an underlying motivation and curiosity—you are superb. The way Howling Dark and Empire of Silence are woven together in a nice tight knot is remarkable. Ruocchio does not do what some others do and make a reader wait until the end of a series to understand what a character like The Quiet means for the story. He gives enough answers to delight the reader and makes them feel like they have a grasp on the truth, while promising them more later.
The reader can’t help but fall in love with Hadrian as he calls himself out on his foolishness and flair for drama. His character development is natural—like watching a childhood friend grow up—and we begin to see the legend of Hadrian Marlow emerge. Hadrian’s insightful ruminations of a man telling his side of a story that he assumes his audience already knows the ending of is a clever ploy to keep the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief intact.
I have little criticism for this book, and what I do have is easily overlooked. Nevertheless…
It’s not uncommon for a book to start in the middle of an action scene or with some time gone by from the previous book. However, there are events that occurred within that gap that are not on the page, and yet are referred to a couple of times. These things affected Hadrian and his friends significantly, but the reader gets only a brief mention of the events to keep them anchored. A lot of characters were added to the end of Empire of Silence and it takes several pages for the reader to muddle through the character’s names to remember who’s who. So if you pick up Howling Dark, and I hope you do, I suggest reading the last few chapters of the first book to get oriented.
Howling Dark is an on the edge of your chair, nail biting read and perfect for those who love epics, whether science fiction or fantasy.