The second book in Steve Cash's "The Meq" series starts a couple of months after the end
of the previous book, on March 1919. Z and his
adopted family of humans and Meq are back in St. Louis and enjoying
baseball games. All is not well for long, though, because the evil Meq rogue assassin Fleur-du-Mal kills
several of Z's friends, sending an awful message that he isn't safe no matter
where he is. Z and his Meq friends start a hunt for the Fleur-du-Mal that takes
them all the way to Egypt. There Z hears about the legends of a sixth Stone that the Fleur-du-Mal could be
searching for that. Z and his friends decide to find the Stone before
the assassin does. Once again they start to journey - for decades - all
around the world. Along the way they get hints about the future and
the Fleur-du-Mal's reasons for doing what he does.
The Meq are
near-immortals who stay physically at twelve years old
until they meet their soul mate and choose to become normal humans.
They don't age or get sick, and they heal very quickly. However, in this
book their immunity to disease seems to fade, and they just accept it
without trying to investigate the cause.
Cash's style continues to put distance between the reader and the
characters. There is some mention of Z's emotions when he describes
his interaction and thoughts about his soul mate, but otherwise the
characters are muted. Also, his description of places isn't very colorful even
in places such as the Valley of the Kings and St.
Louis. It seems that only when the narrative moves to baseball is Cash moved enough to describe events, places and characters with more detail.
The characterization is weaker than in the previous book. The
Fleur-du-Mal is given some pop-psychology explanations for his murderous
personality. However, that comes up in a discussion with other people
so it might not be an actual reason. It's interesting to note that Z
himself suffered through almost the same event as what supposedly made
the Fleur-du-Mal a murderer, and yet nobody is worried about Z
becoming unstable. However, the biggest problem is the girl who they
saved in the last book. Since the age of four, she has been a slave in
a Middle Eastern tribe, yet she doesn't show any difficulties
settling into the life of wife and mother in the U.S. Also, one of
the characters was kidnapped in the previous book, but nobody searched
for him. Still, when he comes back, he seems to accept the fact that
nobody even tried to save him. Many of the characters have
enormous luck: in the real world, most kidnapped children would have a
Overall, the characters react to other people but
don't do much for themselves. The pace of the story is slow and lacks driving tension.
The sprinkling of historical places
and people in the book may be of some interest. Cash's writing style is the same as in The Meq; those who
enjoyed that are likely to enjoy its sequel, too.