Lord of the White Hell: Book Two completes the Lord of the White Hell duology by Ginn Hale. Book One came out in the middle of August and Book Two was just released today. Since the second book picks up right after the first one and this is one book split into two parts, I would strongly recommend starting with Lord of the White Hell: Book One instead of the second volume.
As this is a continuation of the first book, I am going to skip the plot summary and refer to my review of Lord of the White Hell: Book One for those who are not familiar with these two novels. If you have read the first book, you know what the books are about and there is really no need to discuss what happens in the beginning since it’s really the middle and I’d like to write about the book without spoiling it. In this review, I’ll cover some of the differences between this and the first book and what I thought of both books as a single entity.
First of all, I loved the second half of this book just as much as the first one. It did take me a little bit longer to get to the same level of complete absorption as in the first, but before long I was just as swept up by the story. Although it did suck me in pretty quickly, I thought I might not enjoy it as much as the first part for a little while. This was mainly because there was a lot more sex, and I do have a tendency to get bored with a lot of sex scenes. They did not drag on for too long before moving on, though, and they also were often integral to character development so I didn’t mind them as much as I thought I would. However, I still much preferred reading about the various characters, the cultures and mythology, and the curse.
Both books are very heavy on character development and relationships between the characters, and so many of the characters came across as real and likable. Kiram, the scholarly boy with the genius for mechanics, and Javier, the lord controlling the white hell, are of course the best drawn as the main protagonists the books focus on. Yet reading about any of them was immensely enjoyable, and all the friends from the academy had such a wonderful camaraderie shown through humorous, smoothly written dialogue. Even childlike Fedeles, whose conversation mainly consists of singing the names of his favorite horses, shines as sweet and good-natured – and was a character I really cared about in spite of the fact that he is not even normally coherent.
In book two, there is a break from school and Kiram goes home to the Haldiim district in Anacleto. At first I was concerned that this meant there wouldn’t be as much time spent with the characters I’d come to love so much, but it didn’t end up being a problem since some of them lived nearby and others visited. Also, this allowed a firsthand look at the Haldiim and how their way of life contrasted with that of the Cadeleonians. It was particularly refreshing that even though they were more open-minded and less strict than the Cadeleonians, they were not portrayed as perfect in every way. Even though they allowed people to marry a person of either gender and seemed in general more lenient, the matriarchy still had some of the same pitfalls as a patriarchy. Marriages were still often made based on forging an advantageous connection with another family, and mothers still refused to give their sons certain freedoms. Regardless of culture, everyone seemed human with their own strengths and flaws – even compassionate Kiram was not immune to some prejudice when it came to the Cadeleonian religion.
The conclusion was very exciting, and every plot thread was wrapped up. Even though it had a satisfying resolution, it does feel like there is room for sequels since more adventure is probably in store for Kiram.
Although it had many similarities to Wicked Gentlemen, such as the examination of two conflicting cultures, a character driven story and a romance between two men from opposing societies, Lord of the White Hell was not as prettily written. Even so, it is a stronger story, although perhaps I think that because I usually prefer longer stories with more time to get to know the characters.
Lord of the White Hell is highly recommended to readers who enjoy character-driven fantasy with some romance and focus on social structures. It had me captivated from start to finish and is easily one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year.
My Rating: 9/10
Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher.
Reviews of other books in this series: