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It has been twenty years since Prince Bifalt of Belleger discovered the Last Repository and the sorcerous knowledge hidden there. At the behest of the repository's magisters, and in return for the restoration of sorcery to both kingdoms, the realms of Belleger and Amika ceased generations of war. Their alliance was sealed with the marriage of Bifalt to Estie, the crown princess of Amika. But the peace - and their marriage - has been uneasy.
Now the terrible war that King Bifalt and Queen Estie feared is coming. An ancient enemy has discovered the location of the Last Repository, and a mighty horde of dark forces is massing to attack the library and take the magical knowledge it guards. That horde will slaughter every man, woman, and child in its path, destroying both Belleger and Amika along the way.
With their alliance undermined by lingering hostility and conspiracies threatening, it will take all of the monarchs' strength and will to inspire their people into defiance...
This momentous second installment of Donaldson's Great Gods War epic fantasy series (which is nearly three times the size of 2017's Seventh Decimate) picks up 20 years after two kingdoms were forcibly allied through a royal wedding. Bifalt of Belleger and Estie of Amika have married and ascended to their thrones, but old prejudices still simmer. Estie, who loves her husband and grieves that he doesn't love her back, focuses on ruling Amika in a kinder way than her father did and building a road to the Last Repository, where the peace was brokered; she finds out almost too late how much opposition she still has from a surprising source. Many in Belleger are skeptical of Bifalt's declaration that a fearsome enemy threatens, but they continue to build defenses while closely watching the rise of a strange new church in a land that's never heard of gods or faith. Magic, subterfuge, and deeper personal stories give this installment real depth and breadth, developing the world as well as the characters. Readers who felt the first book fell short of Donaldson's past work will be happy to find this a return to form.