This is the sequel to Golden Age, which I really enjoyed. Sadly, this book is missing something its predecessor had. Or maybe it tries to do too much too fast.
Chloe and Dion return, but Chloe’s character becomes very reactionary. Her previous independence and self-motivation peter out as the book progresses. Given the plot, that makes sense, but I really would have preferred to see more of her trying to take control of her situation. She also loses some of the intelligence she had in the last book, not quite catching on at key moments. That was frustrating for me. I think what happens to her will prove very important in the third book, based on the ending of this one, but it was a slow process coming to that realization.
Dion, on the other hand, remains pretty oblivious (as he was in the first book), but he turns out to be one of those characters who steps in mud and comes out clean. Through pure stupidity, he meets the Free Men–a band of pirates–but rather than landing in trouble, he is embraced by them, especially after a character killed in the last book makes a surprising comeback. I wasn’t a fan of that twist, even if I do like that character. Dion becomes a leader in this book, but it never felt like something he wanted, and I had expected him to take more of a second-in-command role rather than being thrust into total leadership by a group of people he has only briefly known. Granted, there are a few reasons why that can be justified, but I wish the book had taken a bit more time to explore how the Free Men really feel about Dion rather than having one dissenter and the rest of the crew as a mob that goes with the flow. They are pirates, after all, and they do value their freedom above all else.
I also don’t really buy Chloe and Dion’s star-crossed romance. That came on very suddenly in the previous book and now it’s written like a true love scenario in this one. I don’t think these two spent nearly enough time together to actually hit that point. Not yet, at least.
Then there’s the eldran. We learn more about them and get to follow two eldran characters: Liana and Eiric. They were both interesting, but with the book jumping focus between Chloe, Dion, Aristocles, Kargan, Liana, Eiric, and (to a lesser extent) Nikolas, Jonas, and Roxanna, there was too much going on to really get drawn into any one narrative. Chapters were a bit too short, sometimes cutting off in weird places, and the writing had the tendency to put too much distance between a character and the reader. For instance, when following Dion, it was jarring for the narration to suddenly refer to him as “the tanned youth with flaxen hair” rather than as Dion. I had to pause a few times and make sure the book was referencing who I thought it was.
Added into this mix is the Aleutheans, thought to be long gone but now returning to claim their homelands through war. They appeared three times in the book (once in the very beginning, once shortly thereafter, and then not again until the finale), but they don’t really do much. I expected them to play a bigger part but I think that will come in the third book. This one certainly left off with most of the antagonists taken care of in one way or another, so it seems the returning warrior race led by King Palemon will drive the plot of the next book.
Overall, I don’t think Silver Road was handled as well as the first book in the series. I expected more character depth and political intrigue, but the former was sidelined in favor of a lot of intertwined plots while the latter was often glossed over in favor of more violent methods of control. I preordered the third book (due out this August) before reading this one. We’ll see how that one goes.