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Kingdom of Sea and Stone is the sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl and concludes the story around Nor, her twin sister Zadie and the fate of Ilara. Starting off nearly right after the end of book one Nor returns home to discover how her family suffered because of the punishments of Ceren. When Talin comes to meet her she has to flee with him and her twin sister while Ceren kidnaps her whole village. Determined to save the ones Nor loves she has to face her worst nightmares and fight for everything which is important to her. But strangely she has visions of Ceren and seems to share a strange bond with him. And what do have the bloodstones have to do with everything?
The sequel focuses less on the mythology of Ilara and more on the relationship of Nor and Talin and the upcoming war between Ceren and the woman king - even though it is unclear at times if Talia is meant or her four year old daughter Zoi who is destined to become the ruler of Ilara when she is old enough. During her journey Nor discovers far more of the continent, visits Galeth and meets Adriel, a healer and witch who grows to be a close friend of Nor because she knows a great deal of blood magic and magic combined with nature. She is a nice addition to the group because although Talin is nice and Zadie and Sami are a cute couple it still focuses on Nor and her nearly love triangle with the Roan and her prince. So Adriel as a non love interest and single woman is a nice change for company on Nors journey. Eventually Nor ends up at New Castle again to prevent the war and save her people all while discovering that Ceren, cruel as he comes to be, still can't be hated through and through. Because of the shared bond she learns more about his past and how he turned into the person he is now. She still fights him but being back at New Castle adds to the character of Ceren and makes him more real than just an atrocious villain, wanting the throne so bad he would turn his whole kingdom into mindless slaves. The added depths to Ceren's character is easily one of the best things of the book.
Next to the war and the relationship of Nor and Talin another main part of the plot is a restlessness in Nor she can't explain. She's trying to find her place in the world with her loved ones but can't imagine herself being a part of royal society again. It drives many of her actions makes the love part of the book less focused on. Which is a good thing because a love triangle would've killed the whole story off. Because of that addition the climax of the book and its ending turns out totally different that expected but it's not bat. Nor wants to not only save her love, but her family and people, even though they despise of her for her actions they blame on her (like scarring her sister). Her relationship to Talin is not unimportant but it feels natural and not her whole focus of attention.
On the other hand there is this whole thing with the bond and the blood magic. Even though the idea is interesting the explanation for everything lacks a bit. It is thought through, there is no doubt about it but since Nor's knowledge is limited it isn't fully explained in the story either. Sadly it's one of the more interesting parts and at the same time one of the most confusing things put into the story.
But all in all it is a good and solid read with likable characters and a worthy sequel to the first one.
I enjoyed this sequel to the Crown of Coral and Pearl duology. It was just as lyrical and descriptive, but contained a bit more politics and scheming. Also more introspection and less romance. Some wonderful new characters were introduced (I really liked Ariel and Roan! - hope their futures are happy and fulfilled). I found myself feeling sorry for Ceren and wishing he could have been redeemed in the end, finding the love he needed. I also felt a little sorry for Talin, for Nor reminded me of me, 20+ years ago... I was just as tempestuous as the sea, always feeling tugged and pulled in different directions. Happy to leave home (and my home continent) at 18, and then homesick and longing for my loved ones. Home for a couple years, then itching to leave them all again. My 20s were riddled with goodbyes and a longing to leave followed by a longing to return. And, although the boy I desperately loved, set me free, I never returned to him. Rather, I married the boy I met later on in my journey. I eventually settled down, and felt content. So, when I read this book as a 41 year old wife and mother, I could still relate to Nor. I hope she travels and live her life to the fullest, and then settle down with Talin and have kids and enjoy the next season of life just as much - for there is never a dull moment when raising kids! I digressed... This is a lovely book, and I will recommend this eagerly.
Omg the beginning was amazing! It was so adventurous, full of kisses and danger. I think the last two or three chapters were a little rushed. But the book itself was amazing. The ending made sense in a lot of ways. And I feel satisfied.
Nor, I really liked her in the first book and in this one it made me like her more! She understood the threat of power. How easily others are so corrupted easily, how she herself might be doing things wrong. Talin was getting swayed by his mother and honestly I was scared he’d change but ultimately because of Nor he didn’t have to chose. Talia really could have taken things too far, she certainly had the anger to back it up. Instead we find them all in play for power and some fun new characters.
Mara Rutherford is a skilled writer, but the charm of the first book is missing in this one. While I was genuinely frightened of Ceren in the first book and was rooting for Nor, Ceren was cartoonish in this installment and Nor was annoyingly self absorbed.