Author: Mark Lawrence Publisher: Harper Voyager
Page Count: 446
The Girl and the Mountain is the sequel to Lawrence’s first within this set of novels, following Yaz through her adventures directly after The girl and the stars. The story picks up straight after the first novel, the characters have found their way out from under the ice and must journey across the mountain. Continuing the same themes of desperation and loneliness from the first novel, with the characters finding themselves under constant danger from new foes and meeting very little in terms of friendly strangers along the way.
What I loved about the original novel was the sense of closeness, it was almost suffocating at times. The POV followed a singular character in Yaz, trapped underground surrounded by ice and things that were be happy to kill her around every icicle. However, this second novel continues the same icy aesthetic and the characters are constantly in mortal danger; but the POV is opened up to three characters which the reader is familiar with and a world that feels so much larger. I did enjoy the multiple POV, exploring the other characters, made for a welcome change but I did find myself missing the single POV and on occasion the story didn’t feel as cohesive until the characters all came together. The world generally gradually opened up throughout the novel, and this came with deeper lore, new characters and a greater connection to the world the novel is based on, but some of the tense atmosphere and suffocation (the only time in my life I have loved being suffocated) was lost. And this is not necessarily a criticism, more of a change I had to accept as a reader.
Yaz continues to be the powerful character from the first novel, and I have continued to enjoy her as a character. Fantasy authors are doing a fantastic job of empowering female characters, but in a more grounded fashion. Her support cast are equally delightful to read, building on their stories in equal parts within this novel. The cast felt more of a team within this novel, bouncing from one another. The lost in this book is felt deeply due to this team dynamic, you felt as if you were within the group, feeling their sadness for yourself. The new character Eular was a treat to read, his character having a twisted morality connected to how children are selected for a greater purpose within this world.
My main issue with this novel was the middle section of the story – their were a few repetitive fight or flight moments that felt very played out within the novel. These did provide an opportunity to move the story on and set the stakes, but I knew nothing significant would come from them. I did enjoy the ice manipulation that came from them. I always enjoy new methods of using magic within novels and Lawrence’s take on ice abilities was fantastic to read.
What I did enjoy most about this novel, is the connection with Lawrence’s other Red Sister Trilogy. The Girl and the Stars began the connection in small ways, leaning on a similar magic system and lore, but this is furthered greater within this novel. For myself, the connection between novels deepened the lore, allowing me to make predictions on what could happen based on my knowledge from the Red Sister series. The other aspect of this novel I enjoyed was the ending. The Girl and the Stars already left us with a huge cliffhanger, but this story easily outshines it. I often find the ending of novels disappointing, stories being concluded in ways that I hadn’t hoped for or not leaving my mind within questions to ask. But Lawrence is a cliffhanger master and this novel is worth reading just to experience the cliffhanger alone. I have been left desperate to find out what happens next, my mind already predicting the worst…..since nothing positive happens within Lawrence’s dark novels.