The Crimson Vault does not begin where House of Blades left off. Rather, the book starts off with a bit of back story. Who saved Simon from the two Travelers at Latari Forest? Why was Simon and his family attacked in the first place? Who exactly is this Valin fellow? Answers to these questions are all contained within the first fifty pages.
And that's really what this book is about: fleshing out the details. House of Blades had an almost superficial quality to it. Witty dialogue and flashy action scenes? Yes! Detailed descriptions about culture or geography? Not so much. So after reading House of Blades, I felt a bit incomplete. The prose was excellent, the characters well thought-out, and the story line enjoyable. But where was the worldbuilding? Where was the nitty-gritty minutate that brings out my inner fan girl? I wanted to immerse myself into House of Blades, but there just wasn't enough substance for me to latch onto.
That's where The Crimson Vault comes in. It had depth. It has texture. It has richness. The same brilliant writing is there but there is a sense of underlying context behind every word. The attention paid to the social structure, history, and political relationships helps make this world as immersive and real as possible.
Of course, even good worldbuilding can't manage to overshadow the epic battles showcased throughout The Crimson Vault. Valinhall, as it turns out, has a lot more goodies to offer Simon besides liquid steel and Nye essence. Stone, diamond, and black gauntlet - I love how Will Wight introduces these new powers - they make each and every confrontation between Travelers memorable.
As for the other Travelers, Kai is as creepy as ever, Leah is even more manipulative, and Alin continues to merrily make every possible mistake he can. Lots of the characters are broken, and that's the way I like it! It helps steer the narrative away from the traditional good vs. evil paradigm, and kept me guessing which faction each character belonged to.
So is The Crimson Vault worth your $2.99? Without a doubt, yes! It is a refined and improved version of House of Blades. Well worth your money.
- Focus on worldbuilding
- Same quality prose
- Untraditional storyline
- Introduction of new powers and Traveler realms
- $2.99 cost
- Occasional typos
- 2014 release date for the third and final book to the series