The Undying Legion by Clay and Susan Griffith
The second installment of the Crown & Key series by Clay & Susan Griffith has Simon, Kate, Malcolm, Penny, Imogen, and Charlotte not only working hard to stop a killer, but getting closer as a family. This is another good addition to the growing steampunk genre.
Publisher’s Description: When monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane comes across the gruesome aftermath of a ritual murder in a London church, he enlists the help of magician-scribe Simon Archer and alchemist extraordinaire Kate Anstruther. Studying the macabre scene, they struggle to understand obscure clues in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics carved into the victim’s heart—as well as bizarre mystical allusions to the romantic poetry of William Blake. One thing is clear: Some very potent black magic is at work.
But this human sacrifice is only the first in a series of ritualized slayings. Desperate to save lives while there is still time, Simon, Kate, and Malcolm—along with gadget geek Penny Carter and Charlotte, an adolescent werewolf—track down a necromancer who is reanimating the deceased. As the team battles an unrelenting army of undead, a powerful Egyptian mummy, and monstrous serpentine demons, the necromancer proves an elusive quarry. And when the true purpose of the ritual is revealed, the gifted allies must confront a destructive force that is positively apocalyptic.
Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!)
Nervous Nellie says…
Main characters: The posse is back together again for round two. Kate, Simon, Malcolm, Charlotte and Penny are pulled into a war that involves Gods. Kate and Simon aren’t evolving much, but Malcolm and Charlotte are center point in this story. Malcolm is gruff and a loner, but he is slowly growing to accept these people as his friends. Charlotte is learning to control her wolf, something that is supposed to be impossible.
Other characters: Imogen is brought into the light more after her difficult time with Dr. White. She has mostly healed physically, but mentally she’s broken. This story has zombies just in case you are one of those folks who enjoy zombies. The “bad” guys aren’t really that developed. I’m can’t exactly explain what is happening with the evil characters, but it’s all got to do with taking over the world. Isn’t that typical for megalomaniacal villains?
World: I’ve never really read much steampunk, but this is a pretty cool world. The world in this story is the same late 1800’s steampunk London as the first book.
Story: I feel that this story wasn’t as spectacular as the first, but it was still darn good. First off, Kate and Simon unfortunately don’t progress much in their relationship. Secondly, there really isn’t a cliffhanger. Charlotte comes to Kate in desperate need of wulfsyl. Kate makes the potion and regulates it in an experiment to see if Charlotte can retain her humanity while in wolf form. Malcolm comes across a ritualistic murder in a church in London. He knows there is something wrong when he also encounters a zombie. Kate and Simon encounter an army of zombies when searching for the mushrooms to make wulfsyl. The conclusion made by the scientist, sorcerer and hunter is that the rituals awakened the dead unintentionally. The story centers around the mystery of the killings and the villain’s dastardly (did I really say dastardly?) plan to bring a god back to earth. OH, and Simon figures out the secret of the key.
Cover: I think there could be a better cover for this story out there somewhere. The chick on the cover doesn’t really feel very steampunk-ishly Victorian English. The only thing that really rings true is the sword. It’s the sword that Kate uses towards the end of the book.
Overall: I love this series, really I do, but this book wasn’t as fabulous as the first book. I want to continue the trilogy because I have to see what happens to all the characters. I think this series is a fun read, but it did feel like it could have ended at least two chapters from the end. I will look for the last book because are a lot of questions that I have to have answers to before I’m satisfied. Will Penny and Malcolm get together? Will Charlotte become a real girl? Will Kate and Simon actually move ahead with their relationship? Where is Nick Barker and what’s his place in all of this? Finally, what is going to happen with Imogen? I’m looking forward to the third and final book.
Unlike Nell, I like this second installment of the Crown and Key series better than the first, probably because we get more in-depth mythology and, as this is my second visit with the characters, I’m getting more and more invested in them.
Some mysteries from the past are, if not revealed, then at least coming back to haunt our band of warriors. Ash and Gaios, two of the original founders of the Order of the Oak, are still in the world and wreaking havoc; Simon, Kate, Malcolm, Penny, and Charlotte are trying to stop the ritual deaths meant to resurrect a god; and escapees from a magical prison are trying to kill them all.
I think the relationship between Simon and Kate is moving forward; they act as if their pairing is a done deal, even in public, and their relationship is acknowledged by their friends. The relationship between Malcolm and Penny is moving slower, though. However, the friendship between Malcolm and Charlotte is the real heart-wrencher in this book. Like a perverse cat, Charlotte is taken by the one person in the group who can’t stand her, but Malcolm is learning to fight through is prejudices against werewolves and see Charlotte as a person and an ally.
We also get one mystery completely solved — what Simon’s key does. But I’m not going to reveal that here. 😉
However, there are still a lot of unsolved mysteries that I’m hoping will be solved in the final book. Where is Kate’s father? What was his connection with the Order of the Oak and Simon’s mother. What is Hogarth? Will Imogen heal? What was the purpose of the key? And when does the “crown” part of the series’ name come in?
Overall, I think this was a good installment in the trilogy, and it set up some good things for the final book.
If you like this book, try:
- London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster
- Electric Empire series by Viola Carr
- Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger