This book, the 2nd in the ColdFire trilogy, has Damien, Tarrant, Hesseth and a new character, Jenesey a young girl who escapes a massacre, traveling in the eastern continent of Erna to do battle with the Undying Prince, a man who controls both humans and rakhs from his stronghold in the Black Lands. The Undying Prince plans to invade the northern part of the continent and has being laying plans with spies and the Matrias, female rakhs who are disguised as humans who lead the Church of the north.
After a long journey fraught with perils and a battle in the Wasting during which Hesseth dies, Damien, Tarrant and Jenesay reach the Undying Prince's lair only to have Tarrant betray the others to the Prince. The betrayal is a false one and Damien tries to kill the Prince but fails. Jenesey succeeds in killing the Prince and herself. Damien and Tarrant leae the Black Lands and travel north where they find the human populace engaged in a campaign of hysterical extermination against the rakh invaders.
It turns out that the Undying Prince isn't the real danger but Calesta, an Iezu demon who thrives on pain and suffering, is. Calesta wants to turn the fae against humans and rakh alike to create an unending warfare.
This book lacks the level of violence tht the 1st had but in makes up for it in character development and a deepening relationship between Damien and Tarrant. Damien learns that his Church may be corrupted, not only by rakh imposters, but even well-meaning humans who twist their faith to coincide with their hatreds rather than the other way around. Tarrant learns that his biggest experiment, the Chruch and God, may actually be working. Twice in the book, an unknown force intervenes, a force that bothe Damien and Tarrant call God. If so, then Tarrant is doubly damned for he is separated from God by his curse and his pride.
This development is the crux of the book, the other actions are merely props to the discovery of God. If the fae can bring demons to life, why can't the prayers and faith of millions bring God to life, too? An interesting idea that will be developed in the 3rd book.
Philosophy and religious themes overshadow the action plot, a predictable and mediocre effort. Again, Friedman takes a lot of words to painstakingly describe every rock, tree, flower, animal, human, rakh and their costumes. Intellectually, the book is better than the 1st as the characters mature.
I look forward to the final book.