Welcome back to the world of the Order. Sorcha and Merrick are in a holding pattern while Sorcha requests dissolution of her marriage to Koyla (her original partner) and Merrick...kind of just waits until Sorcha gets done with her business. Complications arise when Koyla decides that he really DOES want Sorcha (all previous history to the contrary) and they receive an assignment to Orithal, where Raed (the Pretender and Sorcha's lover) is known to be. Off the merry duo goes and of course nothing is as it seems.
I was a bit surprised by Sorcha here, maybe because of her feelings for Raed and maybe because of Merrick's influence she's a bit softer, finds it a little easier to show her feelings. Merrick for his part is much the same--protective and easy-going, but we see more of his backstory. We meet his mother and through her we see a different Merrick, a different person that he could have become once upon a time.
Interestingly Nynnia, who I was intensely interested in GEIST (the first book), returns but not quite as you would expect. This brings about its own particular brand of curiosity, especially in relation to Merrick, as it raises many questions in regards to the future, the prophecy and what happens if you do nothing but look to the future. Several characters learn, in a bad way, that paying attention to the past and present are just as important.
While I wouldn't say this book strayed far from Sorcha being its principle lead, there were a few times when I felt as if Merrick was running the show. A lot of the book deals with his family, questions he has and actions he takes. Sorcha, compared to the first book, spends more time worried over emotions and Koyla. The less I say about Raed the better, there aren't ways to describe his actions or development that don't speak of spoilers.
In all I enjoyed this return trip to the world of the Order, even if it took me longer to get into than GEIST. This was definitely heavier on the world building and lore then GEIST, which is never a bad thing, but can drag a story down after a while.
Though one of the most powerful Deacons, Sorcha Faris has a tarnished reputation to overcome, which is why she jumps at the chance to investigate a string of murders in the exotic city of Orithal. But it is there that her lover, the shapeshifting rival to the throne, is targeted by a cruel and vengeful goddess, unwittingly unleashed by the Emperor's sister.