I could not be happier (or more relieved) to report that Palace of the Damned was vastly more enjoyable and engaging than the previous book in Larten’s Saga.
Events, emotions, and reflections were still overly summarized and I would have liked more detail. I didn’t feel like Shan was bored or in a rush when it came to the writing itself, but the summarizing definitely made the minor characters read a bit flat from time to time. I liked them well enough including Larten’s love interest who actually had a really cool role to play. Bringing back Larten’s former comrade Tanish added an interesting, intriguing twist to the book, but my favorite sections were when Larten spent time around responsible, ancient members of his own kind who had more purpose to their existence and less need to wander around being useless in the middle of a battlefield.
Overall, there was plenty of forward momentum. I felt like the story finally started to go somewhere and I was pleased when the book ended on a promising cliffhanger. The ongoing struggle between regular vampire versus vampaneze was handled well too. I especially liked Larten trying to figure out what he is and what he wants to be. There isn’t a lot of horror in Palace of the Damned, but I really enjoyed how flawed Larten was. He made so many mistakes and didn’t always learn from them. He also didn’t necessarily find happiness or love that will endure through the centuries either, which is sort of refreshing considering that he is a vampire.
In conclusion, quite good and a decided improvement over Ocean of Blood. I’m a bit sad that there’s only one book left in the Saga of Larten Crespley, but I’m also excited to learn that Shan is working on a 12-book series called Zom-B.