Book Review – Fractured Empire: Veil of Reality (Cadicle Series) – Volume 2 – A. K. Duboff

This is a follow-up to my post about Volume 1, Architects of Destiny, as the series is so long that I feel the best way for me to chronicle my readings of it is in parts. I don’t want to forget anything, as each book (at the time of the writing, I’ve just started book 3 of 7) changes appreciably in characters, themes, and conflict.

This time around, I will admit I found some parts slow, or even a little silly. Wil is Cris’ son, and basically he’s the Wesley Crusher of this universe. The kid is 14, good at everything ever conceived, and the adults all kiss his butt. However, by the end of the book he redeems himself, as he grows up a great deal and begins to lose a lot of his more childish notions and comes into the real world. The character development for him is quite well done, as he comes into his own. By the start of the third book, he has deep flaws and emotional wounds that fill him out as something more than a naïve boy genius.

The worldbuilding in this installment was well done, but I found that the first one did more to broaden the culture of the universe and its people. This book, however, went into the nature of the universe itself, and the origins and motivations of the enemies of the Taran Empire, the Bakzen. I found a few of the plot reveals to be a bit predictable when it came to the Bakzen, but there’s only so much that can be done with a fanatically genocidal enemy with few redeeming qualities.

To summarize, I enjoyed the second half of this book, after Wil (and Cris) experience some well-needed humbling. They became more real as people after that, and the story is easier to buy into because while their humanity was intact, they had the makings of being broken men. Sadly, Wil’s mother, Kate, didn’t seem to get the same transformative arc. She doesn’t have too much personality besides “Mama Bear” and “Go yell at Banks(the boss) some more.” Which is a pity, as I feel the book could use a few more female characters. I felt she was under-utilized, as she is a powerful agent in her own right, yet her own contributions don’t seem to go anywhere.

To conclude, I’m going to keep reading. Stay tuned for my review of book 3!

By Thea

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