Why I read it: I enjoyed Radiance and bought the sequel as soon as I knew it was out. (Actually, I remember Radiance much more fondly with hindsight. It’s a book, I have decided, which gets better the more one thinks about it. If I were to grade it now, it would be far closer to an A than the B I originally awarded it.)
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis has unleashed a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by a diseased darkness and on the brink of war. His human wife Ildiko must decide if she will give up the man she loves in order to secure his throne.
Three enemy kingdoms must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king must raise an army of the dead to defeat an army of the damned.
A tale of alliance and sacrifice.
Note: Spoilers for Radiance follow. Eidolon is not a stand-alone book. It is necessary to read Radiance first to understand what’s going on.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Strangely enough, when I started this book, I wanted to immediately stop and then go back and re-read Radiance (I still may do that actually). Seeing Brishen and Ildiko on the page again reminded me about how much I loved reading their romance. I said about Radiance that it had little by way of internal conflict, which is true. But it also meant that they had an instant connection and basically were fairly sympatico right the way through the story. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed watching their love blossom. Once the news of the events at the palace in Haradis reaches Saggara, there is both internal and external conflict galore. If Brishen is the king, he will need heirs of his body. Ildiko cannot give him those heirs, being a different species to her husband. Further, it is unlikely the Kai would accept her as queen in any event. Bastardy is a stain on one’s honour and the Kai do not have polygamy. If Brishen is king and if the king is to do his duty, then he and Ildiko must surely part, mustn’t they?
I had mixed feelings about the resolution to this. It isn’t a spoiler because the first part of the book shows that there is in fact one remaining heir to the throne who takes precedence over Brishen. In some ways it felt a bit like a cop-out – I have been anticipating how this situation was going to be resolved since the end of Radiance. If Brishen is not the king, then the conflict dissolves. On the other hand, I’m all about the HEA and I can’t complain too loudly about getting one I suppose.
Ildiko recognises the threat to her marriage inherent in the disaster at the palace way before Brishen does. This threat and Ildiko’s reluctant but practical reaction to it, cause discord between the couple and part of me became quite mournful. For all I criticised the lack of internal conflict in Radiance, I’d come to rely on it and when it was taken away in Eidolon, I was sad. Don’t worry, there is a happy ending (of course) but it is a while before the couple are on the same page and understanding each other. For a pair who had to navigate different cultures and customs and who managed it so well in the first book, I guess I expected they would have had it down by the time the events of Eidolon occurred. But, no. I guess there are always things which can trip someone up. And, dealing with all the other stuff (basically the world in peril and a risky quest to try and save it), it’s not really a wonder that Brishen’s clear-eyed vision of Ildiko became blurry.
The parts of the story where Brishen and Ildiko are in sync were my favourite sections (and that’s another reason why I’d like to re-read Radiance because there are SO MANY bits like that in the first book. Delicious.)
“I would have been content to live my life as just Brishen,” he whispered into her hair. “Who was loved by Ildiko.”
What else? The danger to the world was clear and present. Drastic steps needed to be taken. Therefore I was a bit surprised when saving the world didn’t actually take all that much time. (It’s not really a spoiler that Brishen is successful is it? It is not without sacrifice of course but this is a romance so he had to survive, save the world and come home to Ildiko. It’s a rule.) In some respects it felt a bit like an afterthought. I didn’t think the fantasy aspect of the plot was as well realised as it was in Radiance.
Also, and very disappointingly, there were numerous errors in the text. Misspelled or missing/wrong words abounded. I found it distracting and saddening.
That said, I still enjoyed the book very much. I am, first and foremost, a romance reader and the romance between Ildiko and Brishen was very much alive within Eidolon. It wasn’t quite as compelling as Radiance. If I’m revising my grade of Radiance to an A in retrospect, then Eidolon gets a B. Still good but lacking something of the charm of the first book.
I’m hoping there will be books in this series/in this world. I’d like to see what develops between Anhuset and Serovek and, I’d love to learn more about the Quereci. Also, more Ildiko and Brishen would never be a hardship.