The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they've always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.
Series: Red Queen (#2)
Release Date: 2 February, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins (HarperTeen Imprint)
Rating: ★★★★☆Review Written: 9 March, 2017
A direct continuation of Mare Barrow's journey of self discovery and attempts to bring justice to a world that is so very deeply in conflict, Glass Sword picks up where Red Queen. Having escaped from the arena that was supposed to kill them, Mare and Cal find themselves in the presence of the Scarlet Guard led by Mare's contact Farley and her brother Shade. From there, they're reunited with a number of characters from the first book including the entire Barrow clan and Kilorn Warren - Mare's oldest childhood friend - as well as introduced to a number of new ones including Farley's father and a number of "new bloods", reds with the same strange abilities that Mare has found herself saddled with.
The story itself is mostly well written, a good idea that heads for the right place mostly though portions of the books, especially when dealing with the training of the new characters, grew tedious to listen to as it felt much of it was recycled and repeated material. Despite these occasional bouts of repeated material, the story progresses at a steady pace while remaining in thought pattern of Mare with readers seeing things through her eyes. The material of the story touches on several difficult topics including survivor's guilt, being forced into a role that one is unprepared for, and obsessions. The topic of difficult decisions is also approached fairly well within the material in the book.
Throughout the book, Mare continually battles against both her own mental demons of what she could have done to realize that Maven wasn't who he was showing her and her need to protect others from reaching that point. For a time, she commands a little band of renegade Guard members (mostly comprised of Farley, her brother Shade, Kilorn, and a very reluctant Cal) in the pursuit of other "new bloods" across the land of Norta while trying to remain undetected from Maven's quest to reclaim Mare. All seems to be going well until the growing ragtag band of new bloods begin finding dead bodies in the place of living bodies and after a couple of near-misses encounter a man named John.
John's gift is seeing the fate of anyone he meets for as long as they travel the road leading along that path and while he initially presents himself as a friend, he refuses to join the team. He does however hint to where the new bloods who were captured by Maven are being kept along with a number of silvers who are being held for political reasons. After following his instructions to find the New Blood who wasn't effected by silent stone (a stone that represses all abilities), Mare sets out on a course of action that if successful will grow her group's numbers tenfold. The plan goes awry however, ending with the death of Shade Barrow (his true death this time) and the destruction of Queen Elara. Things end up kicked up into high gear after Mare and Colonel Farley show the dead body with a large number of child soldiers being sent towards the Choke (the main battlefield) with their new ally Cameron's brother being among those sent towards the front.
The book ends with the Mare sacrificing her freedom to save Cal and the others who were on her mission to rescue Morry Cole, Cameron's twin brother. While Mare's sacrifice is noble, it is questionable at best since Maven continues to promote her as the leader of the Scarlet Guard and ultimately the person responsible for starting the rebellion. I'll admit that it was difficult for me to accept the ending of the book, despite knowing there are two more to come before the end of the series. Mare's mood-swings were difficult to listen to at points, highlighting a fair amount of negativity focused towards people and her own injustices at the world.
Overall, I think that the book and story were well thought out despite a few points of awkward repetition and the professional reader for the book was well selected. I look forward to reading, or rather listening to the next installment of the series - King's Cage.