I happened upon the first book in the Henchmen series (called, appropriately, Henchmen), a while back and absolutely fell in love with the idea of seeing the whole supervillain side of things not just from the bad guy’s perspective, but from those nondescript guys who help the bad guys.
Of course, Steven is not quite full on matching outfit army of drone henchman, he’s more of a second in command, but all the same, it gave an entirely new perspective to see what might cause these droves of people to follow someone who, to the good guy perspective, wants to watch the world burn.
And so, after reading the first one, I snatched up the second one right away…and have been sitting on it, waiting for it to rise to the top of my queue for months.
And, I have to tell you, the wait was worth it.
Where Henchmen was a solid fun look at the tropes of supervillainy, Arise is a look at what the future might hold for a humble little henchman should he play his cards right.
And Steven, it would seem, is doing a mighty fine job of playing his cards right.
This book takes off shortly after the first one ends, where the world is now reeling from the destruction of Congress, while also now living in a reality that this god, Dreamer, is on the loose.
Arise takes a giant leap forward from its predecessor in how Lahti builds his world and fills it with a whole host of creatures and gods and secret societies. His world is living, growing, melding, and you can’t help but envision how the greater world is still trying to move on from the events of the first book.
But what’s most spectacular, in my mind at least, is how Steven grows throughout the course of this sequel. There was some dynamics to his character in the first book, but here we seem him become fully immersed in this world he only had a glimpse of in the original. And not only that, but become a fully integral piece of it. A cornerstone to something he hadn’t even fully known existed until quite recently.
This book is a great read for those who love to see fresh takes on old concepts, while also appreciates fully developed characters who have actual motivations behind their actions, instead of just being used to push the plot forward.
I’d highly recommend it.