The Providence of Fire, the second volume of the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, was released in January, 2015 to rave reviews. Have a look:
“Loved every second of it […] a full, immersive, magical, and exciting world, with characters to match.” – Fantasy Faction, 10/10 stars
“Following in the footsteps of George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie… Brutal, intriguing and continuing to head toward exciting events and places unknown.” – Kirkus, starred review
“Staveley complicates the moral scheme with plausible villains and shaky political alliances.” – Publishers Weekly
“This. Book. Does. Not. Stop . . .” -TheTenaciousReader.com
“A stunning follow-up… Most definitely recommended.” – Beauty in Ruins
“Unexpected plot twists, fascinating characters, brilliant writing … It feels like a cross between Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy and Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and the Coin series.” -The SciFiFanLetter Blog
!!!BEWARE THE MYRIAD SPOILERS!!!
After the slaughter of the monks and the destruction of Ashk’lan, Valyn, Kaden, and the other survivors from The Emperor’s Blades fly east to the long-dead city of Assare and a kenta gate, which will lead Kaden and Rampuri Tan, his teacher from the monastery, to the fortress of the Ishien—an implacable order of Csestriim hunters—where Kaden hopes to discover information about the conspiracy against his family. The Flea’s Wing—the most deadly Kettral in the empire—have been hunting Valyn since his flight from the Eyrie. They attack, but Kaden, Tan, and, inexplicably, Triste (the concubine offered to Kaden at the end of The Emperor’s Blades), are able to escape through the gate.
The Ishien prove brutal, suspicious, and unhelpful; they imprison and torture Triste, believing her to be Csestriim due to her ability to pass through the kenta without training. Finally, Kaden and Triste escape with the help of Kiel, a Csestriim historian, and another prisoner of the Ishien.
Valyn, meanwhile, is left to face the Flea and his Wing. After Pyrre (the Skullsworn assassin responsible for rescuing Kaden at the end of The Emperor’s Blades) kills the Flea’s sniper, Blackfeather Finn, a full fight breaks out. Valyn and his Wing manage to escape. They flee west and crash-land on the steppe, where they encounter a small tribe of Urghul nomads led by a woman named Huutsuu. After subduing the Urghul, Valyn makes the difficult decision to send away Suant’ra, their kettral, because she is too injured to carry them any further. After deciding to leave Huutsuu and her people tied up but alive, Valyn’s Wing rides west on the stolen horses.
Many days later, Valyn’s Wing is captured by the Urghul. To Valyn’s dismay, he learns that Balendin, the vicious and traitorous Kettral leach responsible for Ha Lin’s death in The Emperor’s Blades, is also alive, also a prisoner of the Urghul. The Urghul take them all west across the steppe. After many failed escape attempts, Valyn and his Wing are dragged before the mysterious Urghul shaman and chief: Long Fist. In this audience, Balendin is tortured into revealing the complicity of Ran il Tornja (the top general in Annur, regent after the Emperor’s death, and Adare’s lover in the first book) in the attack against the royal Malkeenian family. Valyn agrees to help Long Fist defeat il Tornja, provided the Urghul don’t attack Annur, and departs the camp with Laith (his flyer) and Talal (the Wing’s leach). Long Fist insists that Gwenna (demolitions), Annick (sniper), and Pyrre remain behind as honored hostages.
Back in Annur, Adare, disguised, flees the Dawn Palace and the capital, aided in part by a soldier named Lehav. She travels south with a group of pilgrims devoted to Intarra, Goddess of Light. She hopes to make common cause with the religious leadership and the military wing of the religion (The Sons of Flame) in the southern city of Olon, then to use their military might against il Tornja, a proposition made extremely risky by her role in destroying the former Chief Priest, Uinian, at the end of The Emperor’s Blades.
On the road south, she befriends Nira, a curiously resourceful old woman who quickly ferrets out her secret. As Adare discovers, Nira and her mad brother Oshi, are the last of the Atmani, human leaches made immortal by the Csestriim years earlier. The siblings are hunting for the Csestriim who created them.
Immediately upon her arrival in Olon, Adare learns that Lehav is actually the commander of the Sons of Flame. Her Aedolian guardsmen (Fulton and Birch) arrive at the last moment, and try to rescue her, but they are all three captured and imprisoned. Adare finally convinces Lehav/Ameredad to join his force to her, but only after a miracle at Intarra’s most holy shrine—a lightning bolt striking Adare, leaving her beautifully scarred but otherwise unharmed—leads them to accept her as a prophet.
With the Intarran army at her back, Adare returns to Annur to find Il Tornja gone, headed north with the Army of the North. She has an audience with Tarik Adiv (traitorous Mizran Council from The Emperor’s Blades, a part of the delegation sent to assassinate Kaden) in which Adiv gives Adare a letter from il Tornja in which he admits to killing her father, but urges her to make common cause with him to fight a newly developed and dire Urghul threat on the northern border, a threat that could extinguish Annur. Adare, believing Kaden to be dead, decides to take the throne for herself.
When she reaches il Tornja in the northern town of Aats-Kyl, Adare discovers (through Nira and il Tornja’s own admissions) that he is Csestriim and has played a fundamental role in Annurian history. Nira wants to kill him for what he did to her and her brother, but Adare convinces the woman to leave him alive so that he can fight the Urghul. Nira does, however, place a magical leash around his neck. Valyn catches up with Adare in Aats-Kyl. She convinces him to wait until after the battle with the Urghul to kill il Tornja, arguing that Annur needs his military expertise to survive.
Kaden, Kiel, and Triste return to Annur, where they take refuge with Triste’s mother, a courtesan, in the Temple of Pleasure. Kiel, realizing il Tornja’s identity, explains that il Tornja has always aimed at the destruction of humanity and the return of the Csestriim. Kaden, hearing that Adare has claimed the Throne and believing her to be cooperating with il Tornja, concludes that the only way to stop them is to destroy the empire. With the help of a young political firebrand (Gabril the Red) and a cabal of malcontented aristocrats, he plots to dissolve imperial rule and institute a republic in its place.
In the north, Gwenna (now a POV character), Annick, and Pyrre escape from Long Fist when he shows his true intentions by freeing Balendin and elevating the leach to a position of great power, then marching on Annur. They are aided at the last minute by the Flea, who has been chasing them. The Flea, perceiving the threat to Annur, tasks Gwenna with holding the Urghul at a small bottleneck town known as Andt-Kyl while he tries to kill Long Fist.
Valyn, increasingly obsessed with his vengeance and scarred by his experiences, sees that il Tornja must come to Andt-Kyl, and lays a trap for him there at the top of an old lighthouse tower. Gwenna and the others are able to hold the town (though Laith is killed) until il Tornja and Adare arrive, putting the Urghul to flight. After the battle, Valyn springs his trap, but Adare, fearing the loss of il Tornja and distrusting her brother, stabs him. He tumbles into the lake, washing up miles down the coast at the very end of the book.
Back in Annur, through a series of deceptions and sacrifices, Kaden is able to pit the Ishien against the forces of Tarik Adiv, who survived the conflict in the Bone Mountains and is running the city while Adare and il Tornja are in the north. In the climactic final showdown, Kaden returns to the Dawn Palace through the kenta. Triste, after slaughtering hundreds of Adiv’s loyalists with her own unsuspected powers, discovers that she is an avatar of Ciena, the Goddess of Pleasure, who has taken human form to find her husband, Meshkent, the God of Pain. The republic established, Kaden turns his attention to Annur’s two most pressing threats: il Tornja and Meshkent.