This is the third of what will be six books, the Thran Chronicles
, the first two being Thran Reborn
and The Burning House
. At 180 pages it's the shortest so far. The first half of the book is very much a continuation of The Burning House
, dealing with the aftermath of Daepar's assassination. Various political and military things happen, of no great consequence. Eventually they stop happening, and the story jumps forward (or perhaps sideways) a century or so. The new protagonist is confusingly also called Andalarn, and is (I think) the grandson of the previous one. He too is a spellcaster. He is a candidate for the Ascendancy but loses out to the Jarl of House Djemo, who institutes a totalitarian regime and eventually arrests Andalarn. Rescued by friends, Andalarn joins the opposition, there's a somewhat muted battle and then a confrontation with the Diur which Andalarn wins rather easily.
This book is a slight improvement on the second in that there is a bit of magical action at the end; and the plot may be developing another layer: there are hints that the Andalarn the Younger story occurs in a parallel world, perhaps offset in time from the first two books. The problems however remain. The chapters are far too short, breaking up the storyline and giving a jerky feel to the book. Inconsistency rules both the storyline and the characters. A rational motive is seldom offered to explain a character's actions, even when those actions are completely incompatible with his previous personality. This also applies to the races. The lizard-like Verni seem to be working for the Diur, even though they have the most reason to hate it. One of the Kell clans harbour evil mages, again without explanation. I know there are another three books to come, so there is at least the possibility that all will be explained. Somehow though I doubt it, and I won't be waiting around to find out.
Apparently Blalock has spent over 20 years building the Thran Chronicles
world. Perhaps this is part of the problem. Maybe the characters behave strangely because adjacent scenes were written decades apart. But just because you have 20 years-worth of prose doesn't mean it should all be crammed into an epic. Much should remain as background material, where it can influence the story, be referred to by the characters, but doesn't submerge the plot. If I were the author I would do a complete rewrite, discarding Thran II completely and drastically pruning the others, trying for some feeling of continuity. If everything irrelevant to the main plot were removed, Blalock may find he has enough only for one book, but it would be a much better one. It might even impress an editor enough for it to be conventionally published.