The City of Veils was a pleasant surprise for a detour from my usual reading tastes. The second book in the series, The Veil of Ashes, was just as enjoyable.
The first book introduced Princess Brynna and her secret persona, Laryssa “The Veil”. Leaving the vigilante Larissa behind and stepping up to become a queen was a hard task for Brynna, accompanied by a lot of fun lines and hilarious situations.
However, a betrayal at the end of the first book leaves Brynna fighting for her own life – a battle her enemies had considered lost maybe way too quickly. Now she’s back in the woods where her vigilante story started – and the kingdom she was to rule controlled by a ruthless usurper.
As Brynna spends some time licking her wounds, Felix, the leader of her royal guard fights a tough battle between his loyalty and his duty – as his royal guard is now under the usurper’s control. Felix does his best to fulfill his duty, even under someone he would prefer not to serve, but does it to protect those under his command.
Which gets me to one thing to point out: the book is still in first-person, with a quarter of the chapters being from Felix’s PoV following the events in Forcadel. The town is in turmoil after the takeover – not only the populace isn’t fond of their new ruler but there’s someone in the town’s underworld targetting those who are willing to offer their services to the usurper queen. Felix is tasked with finding out who is behind those fires but, no matter what he does, he fails to get any decent clue…
Brynna, on the other hand, is left pondering whether she should even try to take the town – and her crown – back. After all, she didn’t seem to have left a good impression on her advisors and overthrowing a tyrant may as well cause way more damage than she’d like. Soon, though, she’s not given a choice – her asylum in the woods lasted for only as long as she needed to recover.
Brynna’s story will lead her through the world to seek out allies old and new and she’ll soon see that she’ll need both Brynna the Princess and Larissa the Veil to have a chance. That is probably as much as I can say without spoilers.
I think the strongest point of this book is the moral dilemma Brynna faces, which comes down from her past. It’s time for her to learn that there’s a cost to everything and that there’s no universally good solution to a situation as screwed up as the state of her kingdom.
The book is quite a fast read, though I had it interrupted by a writing burst (I prefer not to read and write on the same day to not jumble my thoughts too much), otherwise, it’d be much less than 10 days.