Order of Darkness

By Philippa Gregory
Published on 6/4/13
Published by Simon Pulse
Italy, 1453. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm.

Caught in the midst of unimaginable chaos, Luca and Isolde must rely on one another in order to survive.

The second in Philippa Gregory’s four-book series delves further into a forbidden romance and an epic quest. And the tension builds as secrets about The Order of Darkness are finally revealed...

Um...  well...

Order of Darkness is the second in a 4-book series.  I did not read the first book, so I was a bit concerned about whether or not I would be able to understand what was going on.  The good news is that I did understand.  The bad news is that the reason I could jump in midway was because the book just isn't very complex.

Doubtless you read the tantalizing blurb above describing a forbidden love and a fearsome storm.  The real story?  Meh.  

Luca and Isolde seem to like each other without any passion.  It is almost like they feel they are supposed to like each other and are just going along with it.  Whatever.  There is more interesting sexual tension between Luca and Isolde's best friend, Ishraq, who is a "heretic" and (gasp!) half Arab.  I will admit, the deadly storm had me on the edge of my seat because I was wondering if the book might have a magical twist.  It didn't.  It just used a natural phenomenon that was widely misunderstood back in the day.  Bummer.

There are some very enjoyable parts about this book...
It is very well-written.  The author knows her stuff, and from a technical standpoint, her relatively bland story does, at least, follow proper form.
I love the way the author is developing Ishraq, who starts to come into her own during this book.  Gregory explores the ideas of basic feminism through this character during a time when female modesty was of utmost importance.
Lastly, I think it is probably a good second book in a series.  It reveals some things, it makes you question others, and you definitely wonder where it is going.  However, let me remind you I did not read book 1, so I am not sure it is necessarily "better".  Having perused some of the GoodReads reviews, everyone found it about as blah as I did.

I am curious to read the other books in the series to see if it goes where it could potentially go.  It absolutely has the ability to become a nail-biter.  However, just when I thought it was going that way in this book, I was let down.  Who knows?

The reading level of this book is 9th grade and up, and I think it would probably be perfect for a 9th grader who is ready for a little intrigue, but not ready to jump into something super serious.  There is no sex, no violence, but there is a lot of tragic death.  If your kids have experienced tragic death in their lives, I encourage you to preview the book first to make sure it is appropriate for them.  

I give this one big shoulder shrug.  It is okay.  It is just not that good and it is certainly not bad.  :)


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