We Lie With Death by Devin Madson

Into Kisia’s conquered north, a Levanti empire is born.

Loyal to the new emperor, Dishiva e’Jaroven must tread the line between building a new life and clinging to the old. Only Gideon can lead them, but when he allies himself with a man returned from the dead it will challenge all she thinks she knows and everything she wants to believe.

Now empress of nothing, Miko is more determined than ever to fight for her people, yet with her hunt for allies increasingly desperate, she may learn too late that power lies not in names but in people.

Rah refused to bow to the Levanti emperor, but now abandoned by the Second Swords he must choose whether to fight for his people, or his soul. Will honor be his salvation, or lead to his destruction?

Sold to the Witchdoctor, Cassandra’s only chance of freedom is in his hands, but when her fate becomes inextricably linked to Empress Hana, her true nature could condemn them both.

There is no calm after the storm.


I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.


This review will contain spoilers for book one, We Ride the Stom.

Quick Disclaimer: I read the self-pubbed version of book one of this series, We Ride the Storm, not the Orbit version. I’m aware of the changes made and the author helpfully provides a little summary at the beginning explaining some of the changes.

2021 must be the year of sequels because I have so many hotly anticipated sequels, We Ride the Storm chief among them.

I loved the gripping breakneck pacing of book one and I’m so glad to see that hasn’t changed. We follow four characters in book two, Rah, Cassandra, Miko, and a new addition in Captain Dishiva. Madson does a really good job of bringing these characters to life and balancing their POVs in a way that doesn’t make me want to skip chapters (okay sometimes I do but only during cliffhangers). Even our new addition, Captain Dishiva, is quickly endearing and I found her plotline super fascinating because of it’s direct ties with Gideon’s hot mess and the slow unraveling of Leo Villius’ plans.

Personally, however, I loved Cassandra’s arc the most. She was definitely my favorite character in book one and that hasn’t changed with this book. I love her biting snark, her refusal to backdown from any fight, and her sheer will and determination that gets her into this political mess. I’m also a huge sucker for worldbuilding and mystery unraveling and it’s largely through Cassandra’s plotline that we get to learn about the more supernatural aspects, like why does Cassandra have a second voice in her head, what the actual fuck is wrong with Leo Villius, etc. The mysteries and little bits of information Madson drops here and there just kept me constantly on edge, wanting to discover more about this world.

Madson also does a fantastic job crafting the different cultural and political environments of the Kisiansv, Levanti, and Chiltaens. We get to see the themes of conflict in governmental differences between the Kisian and Levanti as Gideon attempt his bullshit takeover of the Kisean empire, all while trying to acclimate his own people to the Kisian culture. It’s fascinating watching the Levanti slowly chafe under these rulings and read their internal conflict between following Gideon and attempting to follow their old ways. Chiltea doesn’t get as much focus this book, but I’m really hoping their religion they follow under Leo gets more exploration in book three, because the small bits we do get to hear about sound extremely fascinating.

My one complaint with this book is fairly minor, that the ending felt very abrupt and climax lacking, and I feel this suffers book 2 syndrome bcause of that. Book 1 ends with a big battle between Miko and the Levanti/Chiltean empire, and I thought book 2 would end similarly with some battle. There are some minor fights that break out but there’s nothing extremely major. Instead, book 2 ends with each POV making a big informational revelation, which definitely builds up to major events that I’m sure will occur in book 3, I just wish this one ended more conclusively.

Overall, I rate this book a 4/5. I loved the worldbuilding and Madson is a master of drip-feeding her readers information to constantly keep us interested. I found all the POVs extremely enjoyable and the breakneck pacing was fantastic.

r/Fantasy Bingo Squares:

  • Book about Books
  • Novel Featuring Politics

Publication Date: 12 January 2021
Publisher: Orbit
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 576
Word Count: ~174,000
ISBN: 0316536385 
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

One thought on “We Lie With Death by Devin Madson

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