The Herald of Darkness takes place 5 years after the events of The Fallen Star. The Draconum have been living peacefully since their return, until the call for war comes. Then Laila and Sarin, along with their dragons, are sent to command the Draconum army, made up of 500 people and each of their dragons. But as their people have no experience of war, they have a few challenges to face, this only worsens when the Draconum are separated from their dragons by an unknown force, causing both humans and dragons to slip into a form of depression, each wanting the other back.
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My only regret for this book was that life got in the way and I didn't get to read it sooner! This book did feel different from The Fallen Star, probably due to the fact that the main characters, Laila and Sarin, are now 5 years older and so have a vastly different outview on the world than in the previous book. (Of course knowing how to work together also helps!)
One of the major indicators of this was Sarin's feelings for Laila, whereas before he was surprised to even discover that he liked her, it is now pretty clear that he loves her, not that he's told her that! From Laila's side it isn't outright said, but I get the impression that she has feelings for him too, I get this from her reactions to the idea of Sarin being hurt, and from their dragons discussions about being fed up of the human 'games'.
Because of the call to war, there was a lot of interaction between the different races, and this included rivalries and animosity. Personally I thought that this was a good touch, as it is much more realistic to believe that not all runs smoothly in a war camp. This is particularly true as some of Laila and Sarin's previous enemies, most notably the Dark Elves, were present in the camp.
Another way that this book differed from the previous one was because there was the introduction of more main characters, whereas previously you only really had Laila, Sarin, their dragons, and Gorak. The most notable additions to me were second in command of the whole army, Venir, and the rebellious Ally and her dragon.
Venir was interesting as she made the transition from background menace to a much more compassionate character, shown through her adoption of Pico the wolf cub. I'm not really sure if I'm supposed to like Venir as a reader, but I do!
Then you have Ally, who I don't like. She is the complete opposite of Laila, even down to the size of her dragon (tiny to Eros' massiveness!) and to say she has a rebellious streak is probably putting it lightly. I can't really explain why I don't like her, but I don't. And I think that is a good thing, as it shows how complex Bryant's characters are.
I liked how The Herald of Darkness didn't feel rushed, but it still had a lot of adventure. And I am very much looking forward to the continuation of the saga!