Book 2 of the Song of the Ancestors, The Human Condition, is another strong effort from John Grover that doesn't quite live up to the promise of Web of the Spider Queen, but still manages to be a solid read.
With the war against the aforementioned Spider Queen behind them, the races of Orum are slowly recovering, taking time to enjoy the rebirth of the world around them. Unfortunately, where the promise of romance should be building bridges between the races, old prejudices and hatreds put the fragile peace at risk. It's this slow, sweet opening to the story that I found to be the weakest part of the story, with the romantic dialogue a little too weak and cliched for my tastes. Fortunately for the reader (if not for the characters), tensions spill over and secrets are betrayed, leading to a civil war between the races.
As as the case with the first story, Grover excels at describing conflict, especially with the frantic scene changes and shifts in perspective. It all begins with the Amazons fighting among themselves, followed by the Faeries making war upon them, all over the fate of the single Human rescued from the Spider Queen's lair. It's a bitter war than sees allies turning upon one another, with a significant emotional component that escalates the conflict a notch above the original war. The battle scenes are as inventive as they are bloody, with some welcome new twists.
Where the book really comes into its own, though, is in the final stages of the story, with the descent into the world of frost fae, but to say much more about that would be to get into spoiler territory. To be honest, I wasn't sure where this second volume could go with the war against the Spider Queen already over, but I quite like the direction that Grover is taking, and look forward to seeing where it goes next.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins