With Ascendance out of the way, I was actually looking forward to reading Transcendence. Where Ascendance had mostly characters I didn’t much like, even Transcendence’s villain was interesting to read about. Between this and my planned travel, this book went very fast – I finished it within a week of starting it.
I’ll provide a few more thoughts, after the jump.
Transcendence is really when I realized that the Second DemonWars Trilogy was really a quite different style to the first. Here, the story revolves a lot more around battles and Brynn’s strategic thinking as she fights a war, and less about a single person’s heroics and tactical acumen. This tonal difference makes the book feel a lot less personal, and while I believe this is done well, it doesn’t work as well for me.
One thing that Transcendence does particularly well, however, is fill out a bit more of the world of Corona. The differences between the Abellicans, Chezrou, and Jhesta Tu are well laid out here and the differences between their respective orders is extremely interesting. While Salvatore doesn’t mash the religions together (at least, not here), the places where they intersect clearly demonstrate that these are very different kinds of religions, and he paints those subtleties very well.
Finally, there’s Pagonel. Of the main protagonists in this book (Brynn, Pagonel, Agradeleas, Juraviel), Pagonel is definitely my favorite. As I mentioned in Dark Designs, I often feel drawn to wise and measured characters, and Pagonel definitely fits that mold in my mind. I like how Brynn wasn’t the young rash character though – with her background, it would have been too easy to put her in that role. Instead, she is a strategic and long-term thinker and Agradeleas was the rash one, which made for some very interesting interactions between the three of them.
As an aside, Chezru Chieftain Yakim Douan is a pretty interesting villain. He reminds me a lot of Ghost from Night Masks (part of the Cleric Quintet). The psychology, philosophy, and morality of someone that swaps bodies for immortality is very interesting to me, and I think Salvatore pulls it off well (both here and in The Cleric Quintet).
Overall, I liked the characters in Transcendence, and, even if the story itself isn’t my thing, I do like how it was told.