“Cole Randolph never meant to come to the Outskirts, but when his friends were kidnapped on Halloween he had to try to save them. Now he’s trapped in a world that lies between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death.
Cole’s hunt for his lost friends has led him to the kingdom of Elloweer. Accompanied by new friends Mira, Twitch, and Jace, Cole teams up with the resistance movement and joins the search for Mira’s sister Honor.
But Elloweer has grown unstable. A mysterious enemy is wiping out towns, leaving no witnesses or survivors. And an infamous rebel know throughout the kingdom as the Rogue Knight is upsetting the balance of power.
With enemies in pursuit, Cole and Mira must resort to a fascinating new kind of magic to protect themselves. Every move is filled with danger as Cole and his friends try to outwit the High King, who will stop at nothing to regain what he has lost.”
The second book in the Five Kingdoms series reads a little better than its predecessor, but that’s not entirely a good thing. You see, I didn’t have that high a regard for Sky Raiders, and Rogue Knight only elevates my view on the series a little bit.
That said, Five Kingdoms is more interesting than Brandon Mull’s own Fablehaven series, which, until now I’ve still no interest of continuing after the first book–although I already bought a copy of the sequel.
Digression aside; what makes Rogue Knight a little better than Sky Raiders for me is the fact that it has a better twist than the first book. One of the things I disliked in Sky Raiders is the too short time it spent on concluding the first book–which wasn’t very satisfying because it barely gave closure to anything.
Rogue Knight begins and ends with the opening and closing of a problem, with a promise of the next big adventure. This was what I was talking about previously, in my Sky Raiders post, about a book having its own start, quest, and end. Granted, this book did not have the burden of introducing and setting up the journey for the entire series. But I still have thoughts on how Sky Raiders could be tweaked to make it a more satisfying read.
Now, why did I say that my view on the series as a whole only rose a little when it already provided the complete journey I was looking for previously? Well, it mostly has to do with the feeling of déjà vu while reading the story. The quest that Cole and his friends get into doesn’t feel very organic. It feels like author Mull has a checklist of things that need to happen, and he’s checking the items off it one by one.
So, sure, Rogue Knight does have the ingredients of a good story, and it does have a clearer structure of where the story begins and ends. But unlike Sky Raiders that has the magic of a whole new world waiting to be explored, Rogue Knight feels like a rehash with a different set of characters to take the place of the ones from the first story, while essentially providing the same plot movement.
Closing the book, there’s a feeling that the author is still trying to find the balance of presenting something new while sticking to the formula of what made his previous novels work. Which, while I’m not overly satisfied with this book, I must say that it did make me look forward to reading the next installment. Because it does feel like Brandon Mull is getting his groove back.