The Spirit Eater
The Spirit Eater, Rachel Aaron’s thrid novel in The Legend of Eli Monpress series, once again picks up immediately after the previous book. However, whereas the previous two volumes placed a strong emphasis on Eli himself this latest volume places a stronger emphasis on both Nico and Josef. The events of The Spirit Rebellion and the Nico’s newfound ability to hear the voice of her demon have shaken her to the core. The demon’s decision to withhold Nico’s special abilities and Nico’s reluctance to talk to Eli about what she is going through shakes the thief’s trust in her and further pushes her into the arms of the demon. While the book focuses on Nico and the machinations of the Demon in the Mountain it also further explores the nature of the Shephardess, Eli’s mostly unwanted patron, and the enigmatic Sara the Council’s spymaster and troubleshooter. The Spirit Eater is so far the most fleshed out entry to the series and makes further strides in fleshing out the world Rachel Aaron has created and does so without sacrificing the energy and excitement of the previous volumes.
One of the most intriguing things about this series, and really at the forefront of The Spirit Eater, is precisely how much an ass Eli can be. Sort of burried in the excitement of the previous books is Eli’s self-centered nature. His treatment of Nico, his unwillingness to trust her and his seeming lack of curiosity and compassion with regards to her situation is on full display here. Indeed it is Eli’s untrusting and self-centered nature combined with Nico’s own fear and self-loathing that serve to give the demon a more controlled grip on Nico’s mind. Despite Eli’s tendancy towards distrust and self-interest his loyal natural is also on complete display here and it is that tendancy that also provides a crucial turning point for the novel.
Berric Stedd makes a return in The Spirit Eater. I admit I might not like this villain if Luke Daniel’s vocal choice for his dialaogue and point of view which sounds a bit like an ultra-psychotic Jason Staham. Still, whereas Stedd was something of a distraction in the previous book here he plays a vilanous role more entwined the with the demonic tendrils of the plot. In The Spirit Rebellion Stedd’s actions served as a catalyst to further Josef’s bond to his sword his role here serves to further galvanize that bond. Indeed the revelations about the Heart of War are fascinating and one the novel’s many “Aw, Cool!” moments.
Perhaps the best aspect of the novel though is the deeping of the world’s mythology. The Shepardess, the White Lady whose mark Eli bears is discussed in more depth here and even gets a few point of view chapters that further illuminate her character. Furthermore, we get a better glimpse of the Lord of Storms motivations and the revelation of tensions between him and his creator. There are also some new developments through these sections that should make for some interesting reading as the series continues, but I don’t want to spoil anything.
The Spirit Eater is by far my favorite novel in the series so far. It marks a number of fascinating development amongst our heroes and further deeps the lore of the world that Eli inhabits. While the characters still don’t feel as fleshed out as they could be neither do they feel near as shallow as they started. Events, characters, and ideas introduced in The Spirit Eater should make the next book, The Spirit War a truly intriguing read. The Legend of Eli Monpress is an exciting and consitantly entertaining series that has continued to get better with each book and fans of lighthearted and action-packed fantasy without a trace of grit should definitely give Rachel Aaron a try.