Chris Wooding's The Ember Blade (2018), while vanilla in style and not the most mature epic fantasy ever written, had just enough something to push it over the line to earn interest in a sequel, a sequel which turned out to be 2023's The Shadow Casket. Does it too have enough something to get over the next line?
The Shadow Casket picks up three years after the events of The Ember Blade. Aren and his group of friends remain in hiding, the numinous blade likewise tucked secretly away. Looking for allies to start a revolution and free Ossia from the Krodans, Aren attempts to convince some of the outlying tribes of the value of aligning with him in a fight. In doing so, he likewise learns of another numinous object, the titular casket, which may be the key to their cause. Meanwhile, the Krodans are razing the land, looking for Aren and the sword. Klyssen, upset with the manner win Kroda is recklessly destroying its economic and social base, lashes out as his superior, and is punished for it. Taken from home and family, he faces exile, and in doing so accidentally crosses paths with the undercurrents of Krodan society working with the darkest of magics. Will he be able to rally Kroda against Aren and his friends?