Downum, Amanda -- The Kingdoms of Dust

Necromancer (or entropomancer, if you prefer) goes to mythic Arabia (by some name or other). Usual crowd of apprentices, old friends-and-enemies, princes, djinn, assassins, etc show up for the ride. Once again, I had trouble tracking all the names. Also, everybody is a spy. I think the author has decided that the only interesting people are people who make hard decisions, meaning decisions about other people, meaning they all have to be spies (unless they're princes or high priests). I'm not objecting, just making a note.

The problem at hand (which secretly ties back to the previous two books, I think, or would if I remembered all those plot details from two years ago) is that a secret order of desert priests has captured a nest of shoggoths. They have shoggoth leakage. Leakage is bad, c.f. "Sea of Glass", "Irim/Iram/Irem of the Pillars" (my favorite Arabian legend that I never heard of until Tim Powers came along, thank you, Tim). Everybody on several sides wants a necromancer to solve their problems. They want her very, very badly. The necromancer deals with this by playing to her strengths, which are not what you expect.

I have decided that I like this (I think) trilogy (the third book ends at a good stopping point, anyhow). However, it's in a strange mid-ground between standard protagonist structure and ensemble casting. I wonder whether the whole thing would have worked better if Isyllt had been a pure NPC, seen only from the outside, with her companions carrying the story. No? I know, it wasn't my decision, I didn't write 'em.

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