I read the first in this series several years ago and loved it. I dropped back into the setting with ease. The characters are real and multidimensional. The caste systems are a very real comment on our modern castes. I am fascinated by the workings of the glasswright`s guild and the descriptions of Rani's challenges in cutting glass. I am still reading the series and would recommend it to any lover of historical fiction or fantasy.
I liked this book better than the first one, although it was slightly upsetting in some parts. Rani is still a very interesting character, although I think Hal is probably my favorite. Mair returns in this books as Rani's friend and lady in waiting.
In this book, Mair and Rani are abducted by Prince Bashanorandi and taken to the neighboring country of Amanth, as insurance that no one will try to stop Bashi. Bashi goes to his uncle, King Sin Hazar's palace. There Rani and Mair are prevented from going home or even writing letters, and are eventually locked away. Eventually they find a way to escape and meet up with Crestman who is running away from King Sin Hazar's little army, an army made intirely of children. He is traveling with Shea, and old woman helping him to escape.
Meanwhile, Hal is trying to negotiate for their return. He receives a fake letter from Rani which convinces him that she is dead, and he prepares to go to war on Amanth. Rani and her friends are soon captured by the little army, so Crestman is forced to pretend that he had never run away.
Things begin to get more complicated when Rani and Mair are recaptured by Sin Hazar and put on a ship heading to a far away country where they and the little army are to be sold as slaves. But how do they convince the little army of that? Meanwhile, Sin Hazar and Hal are ready to begin the war, but Sin Hazar as a secret weapon. How will Rani free herself, and will she be in time to warn Hal and save Crestman? Read to find out!
One final note; I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone under thirteen because it has some very gory scenes in it.
Rani Trader's life has changed very much since 2 years ago when she was falsely accused of being involved in the crown prince's murder. Now, at 15, she is working very hard to rebuild the shattered glasswrights guild as she lives a privileged life in the court. But everything changes when she and the former touched girl Mair are kidnapped by the ... prince Bashi, and taken away to a northern country. Here lives an old woman who's life is changed forever when she saves a young boy named Crestman who is in fact the leader of the "Little Army," an army of children loyal to the tyrant Sir Hazar. Meanwhile back in Morina, the young king Hal finds himself in a fierce political battle with the Fellowship of Jair, the same fellowship that have protected him and helped in achieved a throne. His loyalty to his country and loyalty to his brothers are put to the test. He soon realizes that he won't be able to remain loyal to both of them for ever, and soon he will half to make an important choice. While I enjoyed Rani's first story, The Glasswrights Apprentice, I was blown away by it's sequel. In the Glasswrights Progress Rani and her friend's story is more thrilling than ever. While reading it I found myself shocked at the maturity some of the characters now posses. Rani's life has changed a lot since the last book and she shows it. I was also surprised to see a very little romance sneak in towards the end. If you're a fan of dark suspenseful fantasy novels I recommend this to you. I can't wait to read the 3rd book in the series, the Glasswrights Journeyman.
"Glasswright's Progress" is an improvement over her debut novel "Glasswright's Apprentice," which was an interesting quasi-medieval/feudal look at royalty, religion and society. Ms. Klasky's writing shows more depth and breadth, and her narrative flows more smoothly than in her debut novel. One thing I really enjoyed about this book is that it wasn't what I expected. Rani Trader and her companion Mair of the Touched are immediately abducted by Prince Bashnorandi, and carried off to the court of Sin Hazar. Sin Hazar is an enemy of Morenia's King Halaravilli (or King Hal, for short), mainly because his society is quite different, and because Sin Hazar was raised to take anything he wanted due to how _his_ country views castes. Rani and Mair form new alliances while King Hal tries desperately to find out what's happened to them; Hal must discard old alliances in favor of a new, uncertain future, and the outcome is always in doubt. As I've said before, Ms. Klasky is superlative at showing moral ambiguity, and how the choices a person makes are more important than they might seem. All in all, I'd call "Glasswright's Progress" a very strong book, one that succeeds in telling a darkly realistic tale. I would have liked to see more about Rani's quest to rebuilt the Glasswright's Guild, but I suppose that can wait for later books. I really debated about what amount of stars to give this book; it's very good, and makes all its points. And I really enjoyed Rani and Mair in this book, far more than in the previous book (and I liked them there, too). Which is why I rounded up to five stars. And I'd definitely recommend it. It's very interesting, and it might even stand on its own (without the first book, "Glasswright's Apprentice"), although it definitely is enriched by reading "Apprentice" first. Barb Caffrey