This is the second volume in the Book of Words trilogy (following The Baker's Boy and followed by Master and Fool).
Melli and Jack, fleeing for the second time from Castle Harvell, take refuge in a chicken coop. While Jack is taking a morning stroll in the snow to stretch his legs and bury the corpse of the Halcus man he's just killed to defend Melli, a group of soldiers kidnap the girl to sell her to a flesh-trader. On his way back to the coop, Jack is captured by Rovas and taken to his house. There he meets the smuggler's makeshift family: Magra and her mysterious daughter Tarissa, two noblewomen, exiles like him from the Four Kingdoms. They'll make him believe that Melli has been raped and slaughtered and enroll him to kill the Halcus captain responsible for her death.
In the North, Lord Maybor and Baralis are both travelling to Bren, acting respectively as king and prince envoys to arrange the bethrotal between Prince Kylock and the Duke of Bren's daughter, the young and beautiful Catherine. But in the meantime, Kylock murders his father and therefore becomes king of the Four Kingdoms. He won't wait long before dismissing his mother and invading Halcus in order to put an end to the war.
In this middle volume, the protagonists are all steadily converging to the city of Bren for the third and final act. As J.V. tries not to reveal too much of the plot in itself, with this book she digs deeper into the various characters' personality, and as a result I was surprisingly starting to feel pity for a character I used to loathe, or be just as confused as the hero about another one. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Master and Fool!
This report prepared by Crooty