Book two has Reverend Rook and his Lady Ixchel constructing “Hex City,” built on blood and carnage, but also the only place where hexes can live in peace with one another. Meanwhile, Chess, the red-headed little man of grit and violence, barely in control of his new abilities, seeks his revenge against his former lover, Rook, while avoiding the attacks of angry hexes, Pinkerton agents, and other darker creatures, with Ed Morrow along for the ride.
As the middle book in the trilogy, A Rope of Thorns widens the the scope of the story, interweaving new characters and plotlines into Gemma Files’ vision of a blood soaked west.
As always, violence follows Chess wherever he goes, as well as a strange new red weed that is spreading through the desert in the wake of his footsteps. But Chess has changed. He still laughs at the world and it’s brutal misery, but his laughter is more bitter and without glee. The unfolding of Chess’s character that began in the first book, continues in the second. His layers are stripped away and the profoundly human that lays at his core is unveiled. I’d be madly in love with him, if it weren’t for the fact that he is fictional, gay, and unlikely to take my affection kindly.
The addition of Yancey Colder into the story is wonderfully refreshing. She’s a spiritualist with her own unique power and is drawn into Chess’s circle of violence. She’s a strong female character, one who knows how to act quickly and smartly in the face of threat, and who manages not to be crushed under the weight of disaster that transpires.
Morrow, too. I find I’m even more fond of him in this book, because for all that happens, he stays loyal and true to his friend, Chess. He’s a good brave man, who knows that justice isn’t always what’s written down in legislature books.
Most every one is given a wider breadth in this one, though the Gods that are playing board games with the world remain somewhat one-dimensional. Though, as they are far from human, I suppose that’s to be expected.
Like the first book, there’s plenty of sex and gore in gripping, graphic detail, and the story moves along at a fast pace. I’m looking forward to reading the final book, A Tree of Bones. Based on the ending of book two, I can’t even imagine the carnage that will have to take place.