This is a synopsis of Between Starfalls for those of you who’ve forgotten details since reading. It’s fantastic for refreshing your memory before diving into Let Loose the Fallen.
Because of the nature of this page, there are major spoilers ahead. Do not read on if you haven’t read Between Starfalls. Go read it instead.
So… what happened in Between Starfalls, again?
Book One began with Kaemada, Takiyah, and Ra’ael seeing a messenger from the Elders while they were doing a training session. The messenger comes to their kaetal and sneers at Takiyah for being different and Kaemada for sticking up for her. Then, there’s an attack, and Kaemada and Ra’ael are injured while protecting the others, along with several other people. They have so many injured people, there aren’t enough wagons to also bring a sacrifice to the holy Feast of Starfall. So Kaemada takes her son Eian on pegasus back to clear up at least a little room. Only, Eian goes missing and Kaemada falls unconscious in her panicked search for him. Her panic causes a psychic disturbance that knocks many others unconscious too. Taunos has returned from a mission and figures it must be her and she has to be in trouble. He, Ra’ael, and Takiyah go to look for her, though they aren’t supposed to leave the path. They find her, and she insists Eian has to be through a rock wall. Takiyah figures out a way to level open a crack in the rocks and when they head inside, they find it’s a room with lights glowing on the sides. At the other end is a door, and then they go through that, they’re far above an enormous underground city. They’ve found the legendary Kamalti, but they aren’t as honorable as the stories say. They capture the four and refuse to answer questions about Eian, despite Kaemada’s pleas. As they sneer at their captives and try to scare them, Taunos, Takiyah, Ra’ael, and Kaemada take their boasting for truth and fight for their lives. Kaemada and her wolf go over the edge of a cliff during the struggle. Taunos and Takiyah and Ra’ael are dragged away, believing her dead.
Kaemada wakes up in the City of the Lost, after feeling like she’s had her mind pried open by an ocean of minds. Her wolf is dead, and she rejects the notion that she’s in the ancient prison city, because she’s not exiled, and Eian can’t be here either because that would be a horrible mistake. As she wanders, looking for him even despite her misgivings, she learns how kindness is seen as cruelty in this place, and cruelty can be a kindness. She finds the Resistance and they try to help her find her son. She does find Eian, but he’s being taken to the King of the City, and everything she’s heard tells her that would be horrible. So she tries to save him and ends up captured with him, though the other kids captured with Eian get away in the chaos. Taunos, Takiyah, and Ra’ael are charged with attacking their guards, and sentenced to a year of labor as community service. Each is placed under the authority of a different noble, and the noble families trade them like objects. Taunos ends up with Answer, who was among those who captured them and who fought against them with Kaemada tumbled over the cliff. He hates it, and hates her and her family, seething with a need for vengeance. Afraid of his “magic”, Answer and her family drug him to keep him docile. Ra’ael ends up with a lady called Dode, who seems to want to learn about her people, even if she considers them primitive. She and Dode develop a repoire, and both come to know and appreciate the other’s culture a little more. Dode works to help make their lives easier as much as she can. Takiyah is treated brutally, and when she tries to escape, her leg is broken and she is branded.
Kaemada and Eian become “guests” of the King, who tortures his servants and the people of the city on whims. One of his guards shows an interest in Kaemada, who has no interest in him in return, but tries to figure out how to survive day to day, and escape with Eian. Finally, she tries to escape with a bunch of other captive women in children when one of the women’s son is murdered by the king. Several others escape before they’re found, and the guard who was “courting” Kaemada catches them. Instead of listening to her pleas for mercy, he drags Kaemada and Eian before the king. Kaemada realizes there’s no more time to plan or wait for a better time, because they are about to be murdered. She sets a nightmare in Theron’s head and kills the king. The Resistance members she found earlier are alerted because of one of the women Kaemada helped escape. They mount a rescue and save Kaemada and Eian, but it’s night and monsterous Angels roam the streets. They’re forced away from where they want to go, until they end up in the alley Kaemada (and all newcomers) first wake up in. A door is open at the end, and they slip inside.
Takiyah makes another escape attempt and Taunos and Ra’ael try to help her get out. They’re horrified at her treatment and furious with their captors. Dode tells them a safe place to go, but the guards are after them and they nearly catch them. They take refuge in a church, but then the guards pull it down with “the Gift of the Gods”. Answer thinks they’re going too far, as she begins to recognize Taunos is far more compassionate than most of the people she knows and hangs out with. But she’s outvoted. Taunos, Takiyah, and Ra’ael are re-captured.
Kaemada, Eian, and the Resistance wander farther inside the tunnel and encounter the Collective, a group of Kamalti with “magic” who were thrown out of their families with garbage. They have formed a hive mind, and they talk to Kaemada and try to get her to join them. She tells them they shouldn’t suffer so, but she can’t join them. Finally she breaks free and they run up the tunnel and climb the walls, looking for a way out that isn’t the City of the Lost. They find Tjodlik, Dode’s nephew, who is sad to realize Kaemada’s looking for the three others, who are scheduled to be executed particularly brutally. He brings them to say goodbye and Kaemada disrupts the whole thing. Tjodlik steps in, and they are all taken back into custody but the torture is over. Execution may be next, however. Due to Dode’s influence and the lengths the guards went to when they pulled down the church to capture the three heroes, however, the people are close to rioting against the guards. Many talk to them as they are healed for trial, and realize the Rinaryns and Kamalti have a lot in common. They’re people and should be treated better, more justly.
The Collective take Kaemada’s “advice” and follow them up the wall, attacking the city. Taunous, Takiyah, Ra’ael, Kaemada and Eian with the two Resistence members, try to escape during the chaos, but they see innocents in danger and stop to help them. Eventually, they are come upon by Answer leading a team of guards against the looting and burning members of the Collective taking their revenge. Answer rescues the others and they shelter in one of the odd metal buildings the Kamalti have. Answer realizes she can’t straddle the line, and she has to choose what side to be on. Answer stands up for the Rinaryns during the trial, and they are allowed to go free. They can hardly believe it, but leave quickly. The Resistence goes back to the City of the Lost to see if there’s more they can help. They have no intention of rejoining the Rinaryns, who can be just as corrupt as the Kamalti. The others refuse to believe it, and continue on to the Feast of Starfall, six months later than they meant to arrive. There, the Elders insist on brutal application of the law. Many are xenophobic and they refuse to listen to them, instead seeing them “tainted” by outside influences. The Elders exile the heroes and remove Eian to a new home with a new name to “protect” him.
Ready to read more? Let Loose the Fallen continues after a one month interim.