Title: The Brotherhood of Merlin: Lycenea
Author: Rory D. Nelson
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Action Adventure
In the second installment of The Brotherhood of Merlin series, all seems to be well when Merlin returns victorious from his and the Brotherhood’s defeat of the sadistic King of the Visi-Gauls. But an enemy close to home lingers, and it’s up to Merlin and the Brethren to figure out and stop whoever is trying to usurp the throne.
The Brotherhood of Merlin: Lycenea opens with Merlin returning to Lycenea, with suspicions that a traitor is among his peers. As Merlin suspects, Herod Antipaz, a Councilman who was rejected by the knighthood, is looking to overthrow King Menelaus and destroy the Brotherhood entirely. With protection from his sorceress, Morgana, and assistance from other councilmen, Herod makes Merlin’s suspicions of him all the more difficult to prove.
Perspectives switch between the characters of the Brotherhood and those assisting in usurping King Menelaus. Despite there being many character perspectives we hear from, each is given an animated personality that prevents any confusion between characters and makes the change in perspectives fun and entertaining. The story is as imaginative and whimsical as a high-fantasy video game, with enchanting descriptions of the setting, landscape, and characters’ appearances that will never leave readers glossing. The constant action and high energy of the story is engaging, intense, and exciting.
Though the characters are distinct and well characterized to make clear to the reader who the “bad guys” and “good guys” are, none of the characters undergo any real transformation to make them truly well-developed. The only partial exception to this is Maximus, the recruit who is influenced by Herod and Morgana to help them take Dante out of the picture. Maximus’s character experiences brief moments of self-reflection and self-questioning, making him a more complex character that will evoke reactions from readers that extend beyond the “good guy vs. bad guy” characterization that allows the reader to decide for themselves what to make of him. None of the other characters have this same dynamism, and the book would have benefited from more of this.
Along with staging a coup, Herod is intent on getting rid of Dante, Lucifer’s love child, who, like Merlin, has otherworldly powers. Dante is training at Knight School in Lycenea, where he hopes to join the ranks of the Brotherhood despite his physical ailment, his blindness. When Maximus becomes jealous and hateful toward Dante’s success in training, Herod sees it as an opportunity to get closer to Dante. More emphasis on why Dante is Herod’s target, and the impact Dante’s presence has on the other characters, would have been beneficial for readers who need a reminder from the first book.
The book is quite graphic with profane language, many fight scenes, and two assault scenes. Because of its gore and detailed descriptions of violence, this book is best suited for a mature audience.
Nelson’s characters will keep readers seething at the enemy and rooting for the heroes. With its fast-pace, this story is as entertaining as it is intense. Fantastical and action-packed, The Brotherhood of Merlin: Lycenea will transport readers to a world of betrayal, violence, and, of course, magic.
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