The second volume of the Fire Bearers trilogy expands the world, and the scope of the plot, with the book jumping up a hundred pages in length to compensate.

The first volume left off in a bit of a quiet moment, but there’s plenty happening out in the world. Doto and Clay’s relationship isn’t settled, but it is established, and this book goes into the process of it turning into a more long-term relationship. At the same time, Clay’s brother, Laughing Dog has returned to the People of the Savanna, who are dealing with the nearby forest suddenly attacking anyone who goes in it. (Yes, the trees and other plants themselves attacking.)

This one took me a bit long to get through. The medicine woman of the tribe, Cloud, becomes one of the viewpoint characters, and there’s a section in the middle where you and she see things going wrong, and can’t do anything about it. It’s much like the middle of A Fire Upon the Deep, important, but not at all fun to read.

Past that problem, it is an excellent middle volume. The problems back home pile up as, unknowing of Ogya’s involvement, Clay pushes Doto out of the forest into the wider world, as they go on a hunt for Sarmu, god of the savanna. Coming home, as always, is rougher than expected, and our two plot lines intersect, merge, and then push off in their own directions again for the climax of the book.

The biggest problem here was that this and God of Clay would sit on my shelf for about a decade, waiting for the third book to come out. Which thankfully it has.