The Fallen Blade left off, Act II of Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s Assassini trilogy, The Outcast Blade (2012), is more of A Game of Thrones meets Twilight. Major characters falling, cabals for Marco’s throne revealing themselves, and more bits and pieces of Tycho’s backstory revealed, the stakes only get higher.
Following upon the battle for Cyprus at the end of The Fallen Blade, The Outcast Blade opens with Tycho’s return to Venice. Thrown under the bus by people he thought friends, what should have been a triumphant return as a hero quickly becomes a fight for his life. Not all is as it seems with Prince Alonzo, and only Tycho’s physical abilities allows him to live another day. But Tycho’s return likewise has an effect on his friends. Atilo’s relationship with Desdaio takes a new spin as Tycho begins spending more time with Venice’s most desirable bachelorette—a fact that others in power would seem to try to exploit. With the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund waiting on the wings with a mind to annex Venice, the city is a fire keg ready to explode.
Duels and deception, death and desire, The Outcast Blade continues pushing Grimwood’s operatic agenda—perhaps even more heavily than The Fallen Blade. Drama all around, the series remains sleek, mainstream product filled with blood and tears, sex and violence. Gritty in detail and melodramatic in mood, the arched streets and dingy canals of Venice continue to prove a most personal and paranormal battleground. Well-written for what it is, Grimwood seems to indulge in the freedom of writing standard fare, ensuring Act III, The Exiled Blade will be the grand finale—as an opera should have.