The Undying Legion by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffiths
Del Rey: June 30, 2015 (Steampunk)*
The Undying Legion is the second in Clay and Susan Griffith’s steampunk trilogy. I enjoyed the first book, and I went into the second book wanting more from the main characters. In the first book, for me at least, there was such a focus on action that it was at the expense of truly interesting characters and it was that element that I was hoping would develop more fully in this second installment. Unfortunately, The Undying Legion did not give me the characters that I was looking for and once again the plot was almost exclusively focused on the central mystery and detailed renditions of what the characters were doing rather than what they were experiencing.
In this second installment Simon, Kate and Malcolm are back in the game when they investigate the gruesome murders at several churches in the city. Complicating this investigation is the fact that the dead just don’t seem to want to stay dead. Simon and Kate immediately start researching, but Malcolm splits off from the group due to his discomfort in their treatment of Charlotte, a teenage werewolf. It’s not easy putting aside those werewolf hunting impulses even when confronted with a young girl that’s more interested in fashion and tea parties than, you know, eating people.While Simon and Kate don’t totally understand Malcolm’s hunter tendencies, they let him go, they do have a mystery to solve after all!
The Undying Legion continues the breakneck pace of the first book, yet I didn’t feel that it compensated for the weaknesses of the previous book. With the second book it seems that a lot of character development happened “off scene”. Kate and Simon are apparently “in love” – but I gotta be honest, there was zero chemistry between these two, and I think the romance would have been better to have been left out rather than addressed in such a half hearted fashion. In The Undying Legion readers are told rather than shown what the main characters are feeling and experiencing, leaving me feeling that there’s a whole heck of a lot missing from the narrative.
What saved The Undying Legion for me were the rare moments of humour. The inclusion of Charlotte and her interactions with Malcolm gave this book some much-needed dimension.
So will I be back for the final book? I do want to find out how the major plot points that weave this trilogy together get resolved, but I also think I wont be going into it with any expectations of change. Not a bad trilogy, just one that may not appeal to readers of character-driven plots.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
For similar reads, see my review of The Shadow Revolution.