In Hansen’s (Monster’s Children, 2017) second installment of the Tricksters’ War series, Jamie and the Chosen set out into the desert, where they engage in spectacular battles as they hunt for a stolen spear.
Before diving into the action, the story begins with background regarding the Chosen’s teacher, Hempel, and how the battle between the forces of Order and the Tricksters came about. Jamie and her crew then gather together with a variety of allies for celebrations and contests. The Chosen’s previous exploits are famous, earning them great respect from their fellow attendees. During the celebrations, there are a number of competitions, ranging from friendly to lethal; the latter will decide who will wield the signature weapons of the gods. When the Raven Spear, won by a Middle Eastern member of the Spear Clan named Katlyn, is stolen, Jamie sets out to retrieve it with Katlyn, Russ, and Maria. Nettle, bearer of the Raven Sword, stays behind. Along the way, the group encounters Garaks, giant flying creatures with octopus-like faces that eventually befriend the Chosen, due to their affinity for Maria, who rescues them. The group also confronts various enemies, including the Magi, a skeletal creature, dressed in yellow, that moves like the wind and throws bolts of lightning; Dev, a stone giant; and Nakata, a Champion who’s rumored to have trained with the Queen of Order. Ultimately, when the group attacks a city held by the forces of Order, Hansen doesn’t disappoint, providing some magnificent battle scenes, including a vivid description of Jamie charging into the fray on the back of a griffon: “She laughed and raised one dagger in the air as she roared in unison with the beast. The creature turned and charged into warriors like a bowling ball through pins.” But perhaps the author’s greatest talent lies in drawing out the emotions of his characters; Jamie, for example, experiences bloodlust and nostalgia, moons over Nettle, and muses on the contradictions that she observes within herself and among others. Readers will likely be spoiling for the next book.
A great YA fantasy follow-up that ably develops its plot and characters.