The House Of Shattered Wings pretty much impressed everyone and made Aliette De Bodard one of the most sort-after authors in the genre. Given the amount of praise and awards that were heaped on the book, it’s sequel, House of Binding Thorns, had a lot to live up to.
It easily meets expectations and, unusually for a second book, exceeds the promise of the first. The story opens in Paris, a city still recovering from the results of a rather effective arcane war. The great houses of Paris are now ruled by Fallen Angels. The central premise of the book revolved around representatives of various houses seeking power by any means. Their journey (or descent) to supremacy makes for fascinating reading.
Binding Thorns mostly concentrates of the House of Hawthorn, key antagonists in the last book. We get multiple perspectives (of course), and this expands our sympathy for characters we previously regarded as villains. This is a world of greys, after all, in which power belongs to actual monsters.
The key focus is the various power struggles between the factions makes this delicious reading. It’s a powerful book with addictive prose. Each character is intriguing on their own merit; it’s hard to pick favourites because everyone is as interesting as they are flawed (And everyone is very flawed).
De Bodard’s writing is very precise, like a well-oiled machine. The tempo is piston perfect, with the prose style having a strong and steady rhythm throughout. The emotional journey is relatively predictable (especially when we get into a marriage sequence), but the narrative is not. In other words, you can pretty much tell that the big emotions are coming, but the how and the why is what keeps you on edge.
This is not a villains book; this is a powerful sequel that shows us that the incredibly complex world of the last novel is even more involved than we first expected. Strong stuff which you won’t stop reading till the end.
THE HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS / AUTHOR: ALIETTE DE BODARD / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW