We Lie with Death (The Reborn Empire #2) by Devin Madson
Published by Orbit
Adult, Grim Dark Fantasy
First Published Date : March, 18th 2019
Orbit Publish Date : January, 12th 2021
The empire has fallen and another rises in its place in the action-packed sequel to Devin Madson’s epic fantasy, We Ride the Storm.
Into Kisia’s conquered north, a Levanti empire is born.
Loyal to the new emperor, Dishiva e’Jaroven must tread the line between building a new life and clinging to the old. Only Gideon can lead them, but when he allies himself with a man returned from the dead it will challenge all she thinks she knows and everything she wants to believe.
Now empress of nothing, Miko is more determined than ever to fight for her people, yet with her hunt for allies increasingly desperate, she may learn too late that power lies not in names but in people.
Rah refused to bow to the Levanti emperor, but now abandoned by the Second Swords he must choose whether to fight for his people, or his soul. Will honor be his salvation, or lead to his destruction?
Sold to the Witchdoctor, Cassandra’s only chance of freedom is in his hands, but when her fate becomes inextricably linked to Empress Hana, her true nature could condemn them both.
There is no calm after the storm.
“Yours will break the scales.”
Trigger Warning : rape, decapitation, gore, death, war
ARC provided by the publisher Orbit UK through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The storm is still ravaging, there is no end to the war and death, with many jaw dropping revelations and major development in plot, Devin Madson is back with We Lie with Death the continuation of the Reborn Empire series.
Receiving an Advance Readers Copy (ARC) shortly after I finished the first book We Ride the Storm seemed like the best timing to continue the story, armed with a lot of time during the holidays I decided to read We Lie with Death wanting to see Miko, Rah, and Cassandra again. Before I start my review, I would like to thank Orbit and NetGalley for sending me this ARC for me to review. As of publishing this review, the book is already released for readers that are interested in reading the series, just know that the second book is available for purchase. Shout out to the artist that make these covers, Miko is on the cover of this second book and I am living for it.
We Lie with Death is the second book to the Reborn Empire series by Devin Madson. The story picks up straight from the last events of We Ride the Storm. Throughout the story the tension and intensity that has built up from the first book is taken much higher than before. The dread is really painful for the characters as all of them are experiencing some kind of loneliness and desperation. It took on a much more character driven plot, focusing more on the characters and what they are experiencing first hand in their many endeavors. It also expands the world as some of the characters go on a journey together and there are pairings between the characters that surprised me.
In We Ride the Storm the cultures of each character is much separated but with the conclusion of the first book it is bound for the cultural clash to happen. These cultural clashes happened as a result of the Levanti taking over Kisia’s capital, Mei’ Lian, after Gideon and the other Levanti betrayed Chiltae. Gideon named himself the Emperor and allied the Levanti with Grace Bahain. The struggle to achieve unity between the Levanti and the Kisian’s hits close to real life events which I applaud Devin Madson for. Many of the Levanti supported the new way of life believing that their homeland is doomed, but when there are supporters there are also people that are against it.
“Who chooses hardship fighting the unfamiliar when the familiar still exists? The longer we are away the more sentimental we become and many have begun to forget the troubles that landed us here in the first place.“
There are three main POV’s in the previous book, in this sequel we are introduced to another POV that is Dishiva e’javoren, a Levanti captain now general of the new Levanti-Kisia Empire. In We Ride the Storm, Dishiva was publicly humiliated by the Chiltaen soldiers when the Levanti were enslaved to fight Chiltaen’s war. Knowing this I am interested in seeing her development as character since that horrible experience. Dishiva is much more reserved and closed off compared to her previous friendly interactions with Rah. She keeps an arms length distance with the people around her, while having a hard time making sense of the humiliation that she had to experience with a few other Levanti women. Shining a spotlight on Dishiva gives readers a new insight and a set of new eyes to the story. Dishiva’s POV is one of the best in the book; containing a murder mystery, investigation, healing, and deep sense of comradery. I love the presence of another powerful female amongst the cast of already amazing women, Miko and Cassandra. While one of my favorite POV in the first book, Rah, still carries the same tone as the previous book. Rah is still as steadfast as he is in the first book but much shaken. It seems like he is still processing the change that has come upon his people and his life. Slowly, he is accepting this truth; after much discussion and conflict as he tries to forgive himself from going against Gideon. I get the impression that in the next book, Rah’s POV will have a drastic change in tone. Because I just wanna see this man to feel happy, forgive himself, and show some bad ass fighting skills.
“But for every one that hates you, there’s one who would follow you to death and beyond.”
The POV that I am least interested in is Cassandra’s POV. In this POV contains a lot of knowledge about Cassandra’s existence and abilities. The Witch Doctor’s rag tag bunch that took Cassandra and the Empress in their care have a variety of abilities that has something to do with the soul. They use their powers to help the Witch Doctor to conduct experiments that is being done to Cassandra. Personally, I had a hard time understanding everything that happened in her chapters. The struggles I am having with Cassandra’s chapters is probably because I haven’t read the previous series that is set in the same world, The Vengeance trilogy. If I had prior knowledge I think I would’ve enjoyed Cassandra’s chapters more. It wasn’t working for me and I am sad that I ended up not liking her as much as I did in We Ride the Storm. Cassandra’s POV did give insight to one of the biggest mysteries about Leo and his powers. Leo’s existence is a huge enigma in the previous book to finally have answers about what he is and what he can do is satisfying. The build up to the reveal in Dishiva’s POV and Cassandra’s POV is done really well, Devin Madson’s kept me guessing the whole way.
For Miko in We Lie with Death, her development and growth as a character is monumental. As the new Empress of Kisia the lost she dealt with during the war is staggering. She has lost amazing comrades that supports her but she gains a new ally or maybe a possible love interest. To avoid spoilers, I just wanna say that I did not expect it at all. Miko is much more mature, wiser, and less blinded by her ambitions as the experiences she has in this book humbles her in a way. Even though the decisions she made in the past came biting back at her she still tried to set things right and set her ambitions aside. Miko has risen to become a true Empress, fighting to be acknowledge amongst ambitious men that looks down upon her because she’s a woman. I’ll say it again I love Miko.
“I am no god, I am flesh and blood the same as you, with a heart that bleeds and a soul that rages,”
“Power lies not just with me, but with you all,”
The way Devin Madson writes her strong female characters in general, I admire so much. Devin shows how strong they are without having to say “she is not like other girls”, no description is needed to describe how strong the females are in this book which is a huge turn on. My final thoughts about We Lie with Death is it wasn’t the strongest sequel I’ve read as I struggled with Cassandra’s chapters. Honestly, I almost didn’t finish this book but I persevered for the other characters. The issues I have is entirely subjective and I still enjoyed reading the other POVs which pushed me to finish the book. In the future, I will read the previous series and then try rereading the Reborn Empire so I can read her chapters with more knowledge. If you like barbarian and dog interaction, soul transfers, a cast of strong female main characters and Rah, power struggles, intense politics and a bit of mystery; We Lie with Death is the sequel for you.
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.