In Two Renegade Realms, the second installment in Donita K. Paul's Realm Walkers Series, Cantor, Bixby, and Dukmee must band together to find the storied realm walker Chomountain after a devastating attack by the corrupt Realm Walkers Guild. But what they discover while traveling turns their mission upside down: the great wizard is not as he once was, and they must now find a way to restore Chomountain before they and he can restore the Guild once more.
As a long-time fan of Donita K. Paul's Dragon Keeper books, I've been itching to get my hands on this series for years. When I saw the second book available through BookLook Bloggers I knew I had to grab it, the fact that it was an ebook notwithstanding. While reading it, I was completely engrossed. I found myself drifting away from my school work, reading "just one more page" in the middle of doing what I was supposed to be doing. I thought I would give it a high rating, maybe 3.5 or 4. It wasn't quite as good as the Dragon Keeper books, but I was definitely loving it!
Then, somehow the ending just kind of . . . dropped me. Really, I was starting to get antsy by the last third of the book. Because the first third sets the book up for amazing things: old friends reunited, a spark of suppressed romance between two main characters, impending doom and the right hand of Primen. There was some serious potential there, and even though they spent a lot of time wandering around in ruins in the middle of a mountain, I enjoyed myself. The second third involves the loss of two characters, one minor (a mining slave) and one I'd thought wasn't so minor (Neekoh had better be important in the third book, because otherwise he serves abolutely no purpose that a bit of magic couldn't have performed). It sees the beginning of travel, the addition of a bunch of dragons with names that all sort of blur together, and this random guy who keeps popping up, asking Bixbee to marry him, and then disappearing again. I was sure there would be some sort of great purpose for his presenncem and kind of disappointed about where he wound up fitting into the plot. He'd better have a pretty important role in the third book (along with Neekoh), otherwise he's a pretty big waste of time.
Over all, this is a good book from a great author. The world-building is amazing as always (Paul is a world-building pro at this point!), but while I did love the characters I felt like by the final third of the book there were too many mixed in there, pulling the focus away from the characters and plot-lines that really mattered. I am definitely looking forward to the third book, though, and I think that will be the one to make-or-break the series. If the third book pulls everything together perfectly, then One Realm Beyond is a great introduction to a lot of the threads that will be needed for a masterful ending. If the third book is disjointed, overwhelming, and disorganized, then this book will have been the book that set up for that. Basically, it's a stepping stone for the story arch. Whether that step leads upward or downward is still up in the air.
Disclaimer: I received a free ecopy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Donita K. Paul retired from teaching and took up the mantle of grandma. She loves her new career as author of stories her grandchildren devour. Winner of multiple awards, she lives in Colorado, enjoying friends and family, pets and beautiful scenery. Her favorite part of writing is the readers.