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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Sanctum: Forests of Avalon by C.S. Kading and Tony Fuentes is the second book in the magic, myth, and legend high fantasy series The World of Sanctum, preceded by book one, Sanctum: Sands of Setesh. This installment sees the Knight Wanderer Isolde of Avalon and the Radiant Priest Tulok in Setesh, the human and orc reunited after the latter was squirreled away. Isolde is released from a bond of honor with a catch; their assigned duties still 'apparently aligned along the same path'. The pair venture to Isolde's native Avalon where a mainland fugitive has made their way to the island with nefarious intent, to put it mildly. Once more Isolde and Tulok rely on the strength of the other with a narrow, finite timeframe in a land with near-infinite enchantment, for better or for worse. “We seek a foreign criminal who may have traveled through these lands and the wisdom of your Seer... Please. We are running out of time.”
In the interests of full disclosure, I read Sanctum: Forests of Avalon before turning to C.S. Kading and Tony Fuentes' first Sanctum book. A few chapters in I regretted doing so, not because it was difficult to follow but because even without that foundation to pin my imagination to, the vivid imagery of sand to water to forest and landscapes shifting in between were so well portrayed, and the social structures of the wildly different cultures attached to them left me feeling like I had seriously, seriously missed out. The concept of 'leug', the sort of honor currency of Avalon, was among the best niche collective fabrics I've come across. The writing is tight enough to keep a reader in the story and the characters are extremely well developed. Very highly recommended.