The Dread is the second book in the Fallen Kings Cycle by Gail Z. Martin and things are not looking too good for the Winter Kingdoms. As the series name implies, kings are dying all across the land. The next generation of rulers must step up and lead their nations to war, for the Winter Kingdoms are under attack, from within and without. Internally, long suppressed dark cults are re-animating the dead, mass murderers are running loose, and traitors try to seize power. Externally, the kingdoms are being attacked by a nation from across the sea, a nation of unknown power, led by a mysterious dark summoner.
Tris, Summoner-King of Margolan must leave his wife, Kiara, and infant son, Cwynn, behind and lead his army to defend the coastlands. Meanwhile, Donelan, King of Isencroft, is assassinated and Kiara must assume the throne, leaving Cwynn behind. Cam, the King's Champion in Isencroft is left with the job of leading their armies. Berry is Queen in Principality and must rely on Jonmarc, as Queen's Champion. Jonmarc has left his pregnant wife, Carina, at home and must lead Berry's army of mercenaries while babysitting Gethin, Prince of Eastmark and potential suitor to Berry. Meanwhile, Jair, Prince of Dhasson, is with his wife, Talwyn, and the Sworn. The Dread, an ancient race long dead and watched over by the Sworn, have communicated to Talwyn that the invading army is trying to set the Nachele free.
For me, this was a fascinating read as I tried to lay out the various battles in my head and attempt to discern the invaders motive. The author must have had some rather interesting notes and charts while writing in order to so smoothly bring everything together at the end. This book was an excellent conclusion to the Fallen King Series and fitting sequel to the Chronicles of the Necromancer series. Gail Z. Martin has become one of my favorite authors and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the first book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga.