Amanda Downum – The Kingdoms Of Dust

Amanda Downum takes a somewhat different turn in the third book of the Necromancer Chronicles. Although the setting is new there is a sort of reunion of characters from the first novel, The Drowning City. This is notable as Downum spends little time fleshing them out and only does so on the few new characters in this story. It is the main character that surprisingly gets the least quality time. The story might revolve around her, but Downum does not seem to have much to add. This is a missed opportunity because returning characters should provide more space to explore their background and create a stronger character interaction. Downum only does so on a limited scale.

The Kingdoms Of Dust (2012) has a far less dark and gloomy atmosphere. Downum’s take on necromany is more focused on spirits, the (un)dead and the darker sides of magic than the usual associations one has with it as an evil or bad kind of magic. In Downum’s world they are an accepted kind of magic-users, although they are not particularly liked.

Another change is that the story is more straightforward. There are far less layers and there is not much complexity. It is not that it could not have been there, but Downum chooses not to follow that course. The main obstacles in the plot only play a role on the sideline and are each only given a single moment to present themselves and even these are so scarce and short that one will forget them quickly. It might make the story different than the typical chain of events but these are also the things that can spice up the plot. Giving them barely any serious attention creates a story that lacks serious drama. Before much had happened I was already nearing the end and I really felt like “is this all?”.

Besides taking a different approach to her storytelling, Downum also changes the focus of the magic. The main character is not just a basic necromancer. She possesses a wider range of related abilities related to the dead. One of those abilities played a role in the previous novels and now this forms the center of the plot. Unfortunately Downum does not do much with it. Perhaps she had no idea how to expand the concept. It is as straightforward as the plot so for Downum there is not that much to be be done with it. There were hints there might be something more. Downum does a fine job in her storytelling of adding hints and suggestions that the reader might interpret in his own way before Downum decides what it might be. In this case the hints and suggestions were not really followed up. There was not much else. So that is a bit of a letdown.

Of the three books of the Necromancer Chronicles I have to conclude that The Kingdoms Of Dust is the weakest. There is not much excitement on the magic, and the characterization and plotting hold little complexity. There are many missed opportunities. These might be a choice of the author to avoid standard plot elements, but these do make a more entertaining read and provide more drama. This novel lacked on many parts. It is certainly not bad, just unsatisfactory on the reading experience. This does not mean I will quit the series. If there is another installment I will probably pick it up although it does have to improve again.

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