The Eternal Autumn (Vaelandrian Goddesses # 2)

The Eternal Autumn (Vaelandrian Goddesses # 2) - Cassandra Duffy In this second book, the seasons have ground to a halt, stuck in a never changing autumn. Hunger and want have driven people to desperation. And they find a perfect scapegoat in the strange baby born to two women--Bianca. Harper and Calista embark on a quest to bring the baby to safety. Meanwhile the other members of their adventure company embark on their own quest to solve the riddle with the help of long dead dragons.

I love the development of Harper and Calista's relationship. Like any other newlywed couple, when the blinders of new love come off, the real person behind the idealized image can be quite jarring. In this case it is rather extreme since one of them is after all, a liar/thief/assassin. How the author works this typical marital kink and other post-pregnancy issues seamlessly into the adventure narrative makes this book so much more relatable to non-‘fantasy geeks’. At the same time, it does not lack for detail, magic and epic quests that characterize the fantasy genre.

The lighter parts of the book have a campy vibe to it, making for an interesting contrast to all the death and destruction happening all around. The same style is also evident in the author’s Raven series.

We get to meet more interesting characters. Young, idealistic Sofea is still trying to find her way in the aftermath of the pyrrhic winter war that took the lives of most of her unit. She has joined up with Harper’s company of adventurers, ostensibly for lack of better options, though I think she’s just totally infatuated with Harper. ;) Wendy, their replacement witch, is another new member. Barely out of her teens, she nevertheless carries the collective knowledge of several witches before her. Like Calista in book 1, she is the mystery character in book 2. Her uncertain loyalties and secret agenda make her an intriguing figure. And then there is River, the resident tinkerbell.

Like Frank, Wendy is also my favorite character. Her surliness and snark play off well against the earnest but oblivious and oft-confused Sofea. Her verbal tussles with Sofea are the fantasy equivalent of YA teen spats.

There is a bizarre love triangle, which totally confuses Sofea. What exactly does she want in life? Is she even in love? Do the two other ladies even want her when their quest is over? And why does she feel so hot and tingly in the company of Harper still? Typical teen lesfic stuff. Except that she needs to figure out these things and more while lugging around dragon bones on a dire bear and lopping off undead heads.

A rich and fun romp this adventure has been so far. But something big and ominous happens at the end of this book. Stuff that makes epic adventure series feel...epic. We’re all awaiting the conclusion(?) with bated breath. Ms. Duffy?

4.75 stars