*Please be aware that there may be spoilers for the first book, The Tiger and the Wolf.
Relevant posts: The Tiger and the Wolf
I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
As the south is in turmoil, an old terror emerges in the north . . . Maniye, child of both Wolf and Tiger clans, has been named Champion of her people. But they’re unsure if she’s an asset – or a threat. To buy time, she joins Prince Tecuman’s warband of outcasts and heads south, to help him gain his crown. She wants to discover her true place in the world, but instead heads into the jaws of a fierce new conflict. Civil war threatens as Tecuman and his twin sister battle for the throne, for only one can rule. Yet whoever triumphs will carry a heavy burden, as a great doom has been foreseen that will fall across their whole world. And soon Maniye finds herself at the heart of a political storm. Danger is also shadowing her old home, where Lord Thunder and his bear clan are attempting to unite the northern tribes. But only extreme peril will end age-old rivalries. An adversary from the most ancient of times is preparing to strike, putting their lands and their very souls in danger. And neither north nor south will be spared the terror to come.
The Bear and the Serpent is the second in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Echoes of the Fall series that follows our main protagonist Maniye, as she attempts to find her place within the world that she lives in. After the events of The Tiger and the Wolf, Maniye has headed south in order to find herself and understand her role as Champion better. Whilst she is busy getting wrapped up in the politics and turmoil of a land unknown to her, the tribes left in the Crown of the World are facing an enemy that has not been seen for many years, threatening to take over the land and rid everyone of their souls.
Following from the first novel, Maniye is now the Champion of the Wolf tribe and is leading a band of strays and rogues on a journey to the south. The Bear and the Serpent sees Maniye begin on a path of discovery, discovering who she is now that she has this power and has been noticed by the Gods, but also understanding her position within her tribe having taken it upon herself to lead a group of ragtag wolves, and others who have fallen out of favour. Maniye seems more sure of herself within this novel having endured everything that she has previously, but also understanding why she was treated the way she was by Stone River and Kalameshli Takes Iron. Gone is the childish nature seen at the beginning of The Tiger and the Wolf, to be replaced with a more mature young girl who must make decisions that will not only affect her, but those around her.
The conflicts of The Tiger and the Wolf are still very much prevalent within The Bear and the Serpent, almost getting in the way of Loud Thunder uniting the tribes together to fight this old enemy that has encroached upon their land. However, this new enemy is far worse than warring tribes and causes them to think about their very existence and their future should they fail to destroy these intruders. There is a far more ominous feeling surrounding The Bear and the Serpent with these new characters introduced, and – though it is clear that they have been fought and defeated before – the knowledge of how has been all but lost through time. However, this tone did not give me the same rush and thrill as with the first book, with there being more an air of mystery and suspense.
Though I was really anticipating the release of this book, I found it very hard to get into the narrative this time around. The pacing was a lot slower than the first book and there was far more going on (not really a complaint on that point). However, I believe that this is mainly due in part to the formatting of the eBook that I received. I found myself becoming confused with the passages I was reading as there was only slight indications to character narrative changes through the use of asterisk that, half the time, my eyes completely skimmed over and didn’t register. Because of this, I found myself wondering why I had jumped from indoors to outdoors, from one area to another, from one set of characters to another when there had been no clear indication as to how or why they had got there. Though this has not helped my reading experience with this book, I am still very much invested in this book and will be buying the book when it comes out. My plan is to eventually re-read The Bear and the Serpent as a physical book and seeing if my perspective changes again then.