A mysterious corpse, beastly assassins, and a basement full of cadavers dissolving in acid, lead the beast hunters towards an enigmatic candidate, favourite to claim the throne of Ashbourn.
Despite not wanting to get involved in the coming coronation, Ara and the two beast hunters cannot deny the beastly nature of the clues they discover. Ara must adopt fake personas, infiltrate political galas, and pursue shadowy assassins. Still, the candidate’s monstrous nature eludes her. With the future of Ashbourn at stake, Ara has to solve the mystery before the new king is crowned.
Strangely, Ara’s abilities from Cornstead seem connected with the incidents that transpire during their investigation. Whispers in her mind foretell of sinister events, which she can slowly see come to life. The venom that grants her powers, seems to intertwine her fate with the dark creature threatening to be crowned king.
The second book in The Beast Hunter of Ashbourn series, Dark Sovereign offers a grand conspiracy, building on the events from the first book. Can Ara escape her connection to the ominous entity manipulating the Capital?
The Beast Hunters: Dark Sovereign is the sequel to one of my favourite books of the last year, The Beast Hunters, written by Christer Lende, picking where this one left one, showing us the aftermath that our three characters are experimenting after the events on Cornstead.
Ara has acquired new abilities, that in some way are connected to their last encounter, and which will be connected to the mystery at the core of this second book. Our group travels to Ashbourn, a bigger city that may offer better opportunities for the hunters and better payments; they are right, getting soon involved in the investigation of a corpse, which may be related to the upcoming coronation.
A mysterious candidate for the coronation becomes also the focus of their investigation, putting the hunters in danger; beastly assassins appear to make the situation even more difficult. Khendric and Topper get to meet an old friend, who was part of previous adventures, bogging down the situation, as we can say that the relationship with this person varies between Khendric and Topper.
The elements I loved in the previous book are also present in this one. We get to see how they methodically approach the task, getting in danger due to it, as they are fighting forces beyond their comprehension. The grim atmosphere is also present, despite the urban setting (I was a little bit worried about this because I wasn't sure if it would work in a more populated town), adding an extra layer to the mystery they are investigating. Ara continues her development as a character, gaining experience, and sometimes being in really difficult situations due to her curiosity, but becoming more autonomous in the process.
Despite being a short book, it's incredible the amount of things that happen on its pages. Pacing is excellent, never feels slow, and always keeps your attention because the tension is there; and honestly, the ending just let you question when will be the third book released.
Dark Sovereign is an excellent sequel to The Beast Hunters. If you liked the first book, this second is even better, raising the stakes and connecting it directly to what happened in Cornstead. Grim atmosphere, a group of methodical investigators, and mysterious creatures. Do I need to say more?
Christer Lende began writing in a library, which sounds fitting, only he was supposed to be there working on his engineering degree. He is a professional screenwriter, working with the Norwegian movie producer behind “One Love”, “Who Killed Birgitte” and “All about my Father” Bjørn Eivind Aarskog, together they are eveloping the manuscript for a Norwegian thriller. Bjørn hired Christer after reading The Beast Hunters, trusting Christer could bring his vision to life.
Christer lives in what Norwegians call a city, but people from actual cities would call a town. Of proud Viking blood, he honours his ancestors by heroically sitting in front of a computer writing Fantasy and Science Fiction books. He believes in writing a little bit every day, through weekends, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and even his own birthday. When he’s not writing, he takes care of his two dogs and tries to broker peace with his girlfriend. He’s often found at a gym, trying to compensate for his height issues, or lazily playing video games.
Christer did get that master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, despite procrastinating by writing fiction in the library, and works for a large IT firm, but writing and storytelling are his passions