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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
The Drowned Tower is destroyed, sunken into the Zexin Sea. While many of the surviving magic practitioners who called the institute home linger near the ruins, Sylvie Sirx and Jack Dace search for the hidden entrance to the Red Veld institute. Here, they must play politics before setting off for a treacherous mine where the pair finds another clue about the nature of Elementalists and the entity trapped inside the Heartstone. Political manoeuvres by various players are shifting towards final outcomes that will ripple across Ferus Terria as Jack and Sylvie stumble across an ancient journal that hints at a horrifying secret.
The Red Veld by Nicholas Rinth continues the Heartstone series shortly after the events of book one, The Drowned Tower. This novel starts slowly with the story switching between multiple characters but the gradual pace of events proves to be well worth enduring as Rinth ramps up the tension and action towards the middle. The ending made me ache for the next Heartstone book. Jack and Sylvie have a dynamic relationship that's a lot of fun to read, and their slow-burn romantic tension will leave readers happily dissatisfied as Rinth includes just enough tenderness between these two strong-willed practitioners to leave you wanting more.
A thriving black market slave trade adds a darker edge to this epic fantasy and introduces interesting thematic questions. Despite the slow beginning, The Red Veld is a solid follow up to The Drowned Tower, with an abundance of tension and intrigue to carry through to the next instalment of the Heartstone series.