This second book in the A Man of His Word series picks up more or less where the first book left off. Princess Inosolan, Rap, and Little Chicken, along with some other supporting characters, have been swept through the magic casement, transported to places far from Krasnegar. But the path taken by Inos and Rap, if ever it was meant to follow the same course, definitely does not now since they are each transported to entirely different locations. Yet nothing will stop Rap from fulfilling his promise to Inos to see her safely on her throne, even if it means he must sacrifice everything to do it.
Faery Lands Forlorn is a step above Magic Casement in terms of character development, but it will seem very familiar in most other ways. For example, I often found the writing in Magic Casement, especially during transitions from one point of view character to another or at the start of chapters, somewhat confusing. This is no different in Faery Lands Forlorn. There are many characters beyond just the ones whose orbit keeps them close to the two main characters; these come and go often and it’s sometimes hard to remember their exact purpose or motivations. I find this to be a general concern whenever I’m reading an eBook, so the inability to easily flip back through the pages to locate some scene or character’s name may be more to blame here than Duncan’s writing, but it still seemed somewhat disjointed at times. This also may simply be because Duncan was still honing his craft when this series was written in the early 90’s.
In any case, this book resonated with me about as much as the first one did. It’s slow at times and hard to follow, with plotlines seemingly leading nowhere. That’s not to say it’s a complete loss. I did give it three rockets, after all, which is a worthy ranking. What saves the book is that, as mentioned earlier, there is far more character development going on, especially for Inosolan. In the first book, she was very much the naïve, privileged daughter of a king. In this book, she’s forced to see the world through new eyes, embrace her own resourcefulness, and in many situations fend for herself. She’s not entirely on her own nor does she lack for protection, yet she can no longer act the princess when she no longer has a kingdom. Rap, who I was already fond of in the first book, endears himself even more by staying true to who he is. He is a boy scout amongst a den of barbarians (literally), and despite the many opportunities for him to sway from his true character, he chooses the high road time and time again, even when doing so might bring great harm down upon him. He is an admirable character who continues to impress.
I’m rating Faery Lands Forlorn three rockets. Much like the first book, it starts slow, but it differs from Magic Casement in that it not only picks up the pace but really begins to develop the characters where we start to get a glimpse as to who they really are and who they will become.