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The Pact Book Review
A magical pact ensures peace between humans and old ones in the land of Mynyw. But unrest threatens to nullify the ancient agreement and promises war if it breaks. Maddoc, son of The Lady of the Lake, must find out who seeks to break the pact and stop them from succeeding. Meanwhile, Black Hind sails for Mynyw on a mission for the new king of Terrania. Rumors say a young queen is amassing an army to take back Terraina and start the hunt for Old Ones once more. When Maddoc and the Black Hind crew cross paths, they find that their goals may not be so different.
As promised at the end of book one, The Pact opens the world for readers to explore alongside Black Hind. A host of new lore will greet readers as they navigate the tumultuous fey paths and encounter new mythical communities. Similar to The Skin, the folklore presented in The Pact was entirely new to me. I love when authors focus on lore from various cultures and incorporate elements I’ve never read about. Add to that the ability JE Hannaford has to create heartfelt characters the readers can’t help but feel a connection to.
Still reeling from loss, Selkie and the crew of Black Hind are emotionally spent. Grief is never easy to overcome, especially with the constant reminders aboard Black Hind. Yet they still have old ones to return to their homes. J.E. Hannaford does a brilliant job showing how characters can have conflicts with one another, and though they may not see eye to eye, find ways to work alongside each other because of a common goal. The dynamics between characters are stunning and show how complex relationships can become.
But the crew of Black Hind aren’t the only characters who have complexities in their journey. Maddoc, half human half fey, must tread carefully with any interaction he has with his kin. And as Maddoc’s journey becomes entangled with Black Hind, readers will see how different the fey and old ones can be. Each has their own set of beliefs and values, adding to the richness of the lore. Despite some characters only having a small amount of time on the page, they make a big impact on the reader with their reactions to the pact growing ever closer to breaking.
And as both parties do everything they can to save the pact and accomplish their goals, the reader is ever aware of time ticking down. The foreboding atmosphere hanging above every action and mistake makes the character’s choices all the more important. And just when the reader thinks nothing else could go wrong, another wrench will be thrown into the characters’ plans.
With an exceptional cast of characters and a wonderful theme of found family, The Pact was a rewarding finale to the Black Hind duology. I am sad to see both the characters and the world come to a close. Fantasy readers who enjoy folklore and seafaring adventures need to pick up this duology.
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