Flare: The Sunless World Book 2
The old political structures are disintegrating, and the precious quartz that provides all light and food is failing. Rafe, with the bare minimum of training in how to use his immense raw talent, finds himself back in the midst of the chaos he’d fled two years ago, with his estranged uncle firmly in power in Oakhaven, his face on every wanted poster in the area, and the heir to the throne missing in action. Rafe has more than enough incidental challenges to keep him busy – and that’s before Isabella arrives. With the entire world apparently on the express track to hell, just staying alive is a tricky challenge. Add a magic-using megalomaniac, homicidal relations, and changing train schedules, and Rafe finds himself pulling out every trick he can come up with.
Flare: The Sunless World is the brilliant second novel in Rabia Gale’s Sunless World trilogy, with Rafe Grenfeld, ex-sailor, soldier, diplomat, and spy, firmly back in the protagonist’s seat, trying to figure out how to control his powerful magical gifts before he kills himself and his world’s best hope with him. The world-building for this series is unique, woven with steampunk flair and meticulous consistency to showcase that rarest gift – total plausibility. As if that weren’t enough on its own, Rafe remains one of my favourite protagonists in this year or any other one; he’s been damaged, he’s been thrown into the unknown, but he keeps going, armed with his own brand of clear-sighted realism and apparently physically unable to resist wisecracks. Add to that a polished, flawlessly edited writing style, and this series stands in a field of its own. I can’t over-recommend this book, I read it in a single day and then went sniffing around the end matter hoping for more.