I’m a big fan of sword and sorcery adventures, but lately there’s a lot of dreck being self-published in this genre. It’s a joy to find an author as talented as Robert J. Crane and a series as exciting as Sanctuary. I went through this book saying “Just one more chapter” until the sun was rising and my alarm was ringing. I considered calling in sick so that I could finish reading, but the example of Cyrus Davidon, the Sanctuary series protagonist, and duty prevailed. I went to work, then rushed home at the end of the day to once again immerse myself in the world of Arkaria.
I gave the first book in the series a rave review, and this book is even better. I promised myself that I would write this review before starting the third book, but I couldn’t do it. I picked up that book right away, and it is better still.
In Avenger, Davidon is having nightmares about his friend’s death at the hands of the Goblin King and Queen. At the same time, caravans crossing the plains near Sanctuary are being raided with all hands being mercilessly killed so there are no witnesses. Davidon and his guild mates are found investigating at a fresh kill and accused of being the marauders. They are banished from all major cities, separating them from families and holdings. Some members leave the guild to return to their homes, but despite their denouncement of Sanctuary, they are killed for breaking their exile. Sanctuary’s plight looks most bleak when rival guild, Goliath, turns up to offer to pay the fines in exchange for taking over Sanctuary. Davidon and his mates turn down Goliath’s offer. They continue to investigate the caravan attacks while planning an assault on the lower realms to raise capital and obtain magical weapons and armor.
I won’t spoil the end of the book for you. Read it for yourself, but plan to start on a Friday night so that you don’t find yourself asleep at your desk when you should be working.
I love all of the Sanctuary books, but this is my favorite yet. In this installment of the series, assassins have been dispatched to Sanctuary to kill Cyrus Davidon’s love interest, Vara. She escapes, but other guild members die in the attack. A search ensues to discover who wants to kill Vara and why. Cyrus and Vara travel under cover to warn Vara’s parents, and her mother proves nearly as deadly to Cyrus as the assassins are to Vara.
In the meantime, the dark elves are on the march, laying waste to human cities and driving out the inhabitants. Assassins are using the steady stream of refugees as cover as they stalk and kill elves across the land. What is this conspiracy, and will Cyrus and Vara be able to stop it before her family falls victim?
Robert J. Crane writes wonderful characters, which make the battle scenes in this book more than just technically superb writing. You will care about these characters and find yourself rooting for them out loud as they defend Vara’s home city against the dark elves. (Don’t read this in a restaurant like I did – it’s embarrassing!) The scenes between Davidon and Vara, as well as between Davidon and Vara’s mother, are priceless.
The best part of this series is that we start out each book in a ruined Sanctuary in a time labelled “now.” Then most of the rest of the book is set as “then” until the very end brings us back into “now.” Each book brings us closer to the catastrophe that has ruined Sanctuary and left Cyrus alone. Each book also delves into the back story of one of the characters, enriching our experience of the Sanctuary guild and its members. At the end of this book, Crane gives us a hint as to which character will be explored in the next book, and I can’t wait.
Write quickly, oh author. I cannot wait for the next installment of the adventures of Cyrus and Sanctuary.