Anger will not be quenched by blood alone.
The Missing, a rebel army that is little more than a rumor, may be Kaylo’s only path to exact his vengeance against the empire that claimed his home and killed his family. If it means a chance to balance the blood he owes, he will steal spirits and become the Missing’s tool, as long as they aim him in the right direction.
Eighteen years later, a war is raging between factions for control of Ennea. With Tayen, Kaylo, and Nix caught in the middle of a power struggle—Kaylo will have to find a way to fulfill the promise he made to Tayen, Nix must face the consequences of her betrayal, and Tayen will have to choose between vengeance and her spirit. When blood is owed, virtues will be challenged.
No Safe Haven is a superb sequel that further develops the characters and themes from the first novel.
The story picks up right after the ending of No Heart for a Thief, and if you liked that book, I’m pretty confident you will enjoy this one at least as much, if not more. In my opinion the real strength of the author is in his characters. He does a great job in building believable characters and conveying their emotions and motivations in captivating ways. This isn’t reserved for the main cast either, the side characters feel very real and well-developed as well. Even as most of the characters make poor decisions and do terrible things, you feel for them and the circumstances that pushed them where they are. I do have to say that pretty much every major character is consumed by anger and revenge to one degree or another, which does become slightly repetitive at times. We do get a few minor characters who are not but these characters get only a small word count. I would like to see these characters developed and shown more, especially because Kaylo is trying to teach Tayen this very thing.
Even though most of these characters are justifiably angry, I enjoyed seeing the small things that brought them happiness. There is an obvious love between Kaylo and Tayen, even when they annoy each other frequently, and watching them learn to open up to each other more was very heartwarming. This was a common thread throughout the novel, these oppressed, and sometimes enslaved, people finding small joys in their relationships with each other that gave them strength that their oppressors couldn’t take away from them. Which of course makes the deaths and suffering that much more heart-wrenching, as many characters are killed, and all of them subjected to terrible things. However, in the portrayal of their suffering, as well as their joys, and in other ways, I am impressed with how the author portrays colonialism and oppression in a vivid and brutal yet sensitive manner.
If you’ve read the first book you know that the story is split between two timelines, the present day, and Kaylo’s past as he recalls it to Tayen as a warning away from a path of revenge. I enjoyed this but had some structural issues with it in the first book, which I found to be resolved in No Safe Haven. It felt much more balanced and there were important events happening in both timelines that kept the pace flowing nicely. The author does a great job of inserting events from Kaylo’s past into the story at the right time, so that we learned about them as they were significant to the present day. I found the dichotomy between young Kaylo and him in the present to be very interesting. In both timelines he is angry but while the young version is rash and hotheaded, the present day Kaylo has a cold and tempered anger.
Though not a focus of the books, I very much enjoy what worldbuilding we do get in No Safe Haven. Especially the further explanations of the magic. I like how the magic is both an interesting fantasy element as well as a representation of cultural elements of oppressed peoples. The gifts stems from one of the Great Spirits, and is both a part of them, as well as a part of the dancer who wields the magic. And of course the way spirits are trapped in crystals and used by those without the bond in a bastardized emulation of the dancers. The author uses the magic to show how the culture of an oppressed people can be stolen from them and weaponized against them. On a Lore note, one of the Great Spirits, the Balance/Thief, is an intriguing character that continues to evolve as we learn more about them. I am still not sure what to think about the Spirit and I look forward to getting more answers in the last book of the trilogy.
Overall, I enjoyed the second entry of the series. It improved on some of the small issues I had with the first book while further exploring the themes and characters that are the heart of the Malitu trilogy. If you liked No Heart for a Thief, I definitely recommend this novel. And if you have yet to pick up the first book, I also recommend it for readers who enjoy character-driven, emotional, and dark stories with deep themes.