The Burning Shadow by Michelle Paver, published by Puffin on 1st August 2013
While searching for his kidnapped sister, Outsider Hylas takes a dangerous detour when he’s captured as a slave and sent to the copper mines of Thalakrea. Hylas faces brutal overseers and lethal cave-ins while evading his enemies, the Crows. With the aid of an orphaned lion cub and his friend Pirra, Hylas must escape the mines and shatter the power of the Crows for good. But the prophecy is still at work and Hylas cannot escape its grasp, especially when the anger of the oldest god is awakened.
'The Burning Shadow' is the second book in Michelle Paver's Gods and Warriors series. When I read the opening instalment last year I was extremely impressed so I was excited to pick up the threads of the main character Hylas's story and see what lay in store for him next.
The plot again follows Hylas the Outsider and Pirra, who is on the run from her life as daughter of the High Priestess. The two have been separated but they are never far from each other's thoughts and their paths seem destined to collide again in the future. The adversity that both characters face is shown but their strength lies in their determination to overcome all the obstacles put in their way.
I absolutely adored the chapters told from the viewpoint of Havoc the lion cub. Michelle Paver writes beautifully through the eyes of Havoc, conjuring a real sense of the animal's thoughts and feelings. She also shows wonderfully the cruelty and beauty of nature working in tandem together. Havoc and Hylas develop an amazing bond and it's this which for me is one of the main strengths of the whole book. I've yet to come across another author who writes about animals in the way that Paver does.
An incredible sense of history is conveyed throughout the story. I knew very little about the Bronze Age before I started reading this series but I feel like I've gained a real understanding of this particular period of history and I'm eager to find out more about the way of life of the people that lived during this time.
Overall, this was a tale of exciting adventure which hooked me from the very first page. The third book in the series is set to be published in 2014 and with the ending of 'The Burning Shadow' leaving the reader in great anticipation of what will come next, I for one am going to be counting down the days until it hits bookshop shelves.