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This awkward middle volume, the second installment of Ruckley's Godless World trilogy (after 2007's acclaimed Winterbirth), lacks the thematic impact and emotional intensity of its predecessor. As the armies of the Black Road, a fatalistic religious movement revolving around a creed of predestination, descend from their northern exile, the quarrelsome leaders of the True Blood clans must join forces or die, but supernatural forces beyond their understanding are playing with their destiny. Multiple plot threads featuring dozens of integral characters bog down the pacing considerably, creating a narrative that, like the unwieldy and poorly led True Blood army, becomes a "lethargic thing" emanating "resentment and reluctance." New readers will be utterly lost and fans left impatient for book three. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.