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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
In Dyndaer: The Kaelandur Series Book 2 by Joshua Robertson, Dorofej and Branimir emerge from the Netherworld, having spent thousands of years traversing it in search of an exit. Much has changed in the world during that time, but much also remains the same. The Kadari, having usurped the neutral Highborn, have abandoned the Dyndaer to establish their stronghold at Melkorka. Their influence has spread across Maharia, forcing many to embrace the laws of their god. The magical dagger, Kaelandur, has returned to the world against all odds, and it falls to Dorofej and Branimir to guard it. Rumours abound of a slain god and dead spilling out from a Netherworld too crowded to contain them. The gods are at work in the quest facing Branimir and Dorofej, but the desires of gods are ultimately selfish and can’t be trusted to align with the best interests of mortals.
Although I am familiar with Joshua Robertson’s books, I’m still amazed by the rich world building and subtle elegance of the themes in these novels. New races and cultural beliefs have emerged in Maharia during the time Dorofej and Branimir were trapped in the Netherworld, which adds a little of the exotic to the familiar setting. Branimir has matured and grown substantially since Melkorka, the first book in Joshua Robertson’s Kaelandur trilogy. Through his expanded view of the world, we begin to see a greater depth to Dorofej and the intricacy of his motivations. Branimir’s difficulty in grasping the distinction between good and evil avoids the common discourse to make this age-old question seem new. There is a distinct Tolkien feel underlying the originality of Dyndaer’s world and characters, which imbues the book with the comforting sense of having picked up an old favourite to read, until the plot kicks you from your comfy chair with a surprising twist.