I knew from the very first chapter that this was going to be a brilliant, deceptive romp through a richly detailed no-magic fantasy setting, and I was not disappointed. When the first book in your series is about training a secret band of Parkour masters proficient in deceit, disguise and assassination, the second book could only keep that strong momentum flowing. I was not disappointed.
The story revolves around three main characters in two and a half strong plot threads: the first is an attempt to resurrect the betrayed and defeated Band, and spur on a rebellion in the tyrannous Huctan Empire. The second revolves around the Huctan princess, and the time she begins to share with a poor Botani rebel and pit fighter.
Though the book opens with several characters getting rooted out, captured and tortured by the Huctans, it really picks up after a quarter of the way through. From there, the story is impossible to put down.
The book is a deep psychological exploration of trust and lies, manipulation of the weak by the strong and the foolish by the clever. Along the way, battles are fought, men are made, others are broken. The lead up to the Botani insurrection and the pushback by the Huctan Empire is fully believable, and overall superb.
In general, most readers like some amount of sorcery with their sword, but the Everknot Duet has zero magic at all, unless you count the magic of clever wordplay or superb plotting and pacing.
Overall, there are zero bad things to say about this book, so long as brutality and truthful storytelling aren’t too difficult to handle. Awesome Indies proudly awards this book five stars.