This is just a short post expanding on something I wanted to say in a Gab post, but couldn’t make fit. Vox Day’s fantasy series “Arts of Dark And Light” series released the first half of its second installment, A Sea of Skulls, this winter, following up on the first installment A Throne of Bones. While a full review needs to wait until the second half of the novel is released, I believe it is prudent at this time to mark and discuss the improvement between the novels.
A Throne of Bones, was, in many ways, a response to George R.R. Martin’s wildly popular and painfully slowly written fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, especially A Game of Thrones. Many praise Martin’s series for its supposed realism, by not letting the protagonists get victories they didn’t deserve. What many have recognized is that this is directly attached to the series’ nihilism, negative view of humanity, and generally focusing on all the bad things in life while forgetting about the good ones. A Throne of Bones makes a point to show the things in life that Martin neglects in his point-of-view characters. Among these are: devotion to one’s people, selflessness, devotion to religion, happily married couples, and women who integrate into society. What makes A Throne of Bones such a good response is that all of these things are included without letting the protagonists receive unearned victories. The two works form something of a ying yang, with Eddard Stark and Theuderic juxtaposed against the rest of the main cast.
What Vox Day managed to do in his second book is something that George R.R. Martin hasn’t done in four sequels: expand the emotional scope of the series. A Sea of Skulls brings the reader through an experience that encompasses the horrors of war, desperation, hopelessness, loss and civilizational decay. These are in addition to maintaining the depictions heroism, family, competence etc from the A Throne of Bones. As a whole, A Sea of Skulls transcends its previous work and its contrasting relationship to Martin’s saga.