cover image Black Halo: The Aeons Gate, Book Two

Black Halo: The Aeons Gate, Book Two

Sam Sykes. Pyr, $16 trade paper (550p) ISBN 978-1-61614-355-8

Lenk and his companions have recovered the Tome of the Undergates; but when they discover their ship has sprung a leak, the adventurers end up stranded on an island with a dark history of its own and pursued by submarine monsters, fanatical non-human warriors, power-mad mages and violently diligent Librarians. Despite such calamity, they all find time to contemplate in some detail their tragic back-stories and crippling personal shortcomings. Should this group of reluctant heroes falter, the very survival of the world is at stake. Sykes's first book was flawed but with hints of untapped potential. This volume, in contrast, preserves and builds on the flaws of its predecessor. Unfortunately, the glimpses of Sykes's potential previously seen are invisible here. A mid-series book is more of a fragment than a complete novel—nothing truly dramatic can happen in it; the important characters cannot really be in danger and none of the important conflicts can actually be resolved. Sykes fails to meet or break-through any of the mid-series conventions, which makes for a slow-paced, predictable and just-plain-disappointing sequel to a mediocre debut. (Mar. 22)