Author: James A. Moore
Date to be Published: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Angry Robot Ltd
Edition: ARC (I got a digital galley via Netgalley for an honest review)
The Empire of Fellein is in mourning. The Emperor is dead, and the armies of the empire have grown soft. Merros Dulver, their newly-appointed – and somewhat reluctant – commander, has been tasked with preparing them to fight the most savage enemy the world has yet seen.
Meanwhile, a perpetual storm ravages the Blasted Lands, and a new threat is about to arise – the Broken are coming, and with them only Death.
Tarag Paedori is the King in Iron. He is the Chosen of Truska-Pren. Truska-Pren is the god of formal combat. He charges Tarag Paedori with ruling the armies of the Sa’ba Taalor.
In this sequel to Seven Forges, I've finally learned that the Daxar Taalor are Gods of War. I was wrong in my review of Seven Forges of the gods being Gods of Combat Materials. Paedle is rather the God of Silent Deaths and his Chosen the King in Mercury. The Chosen of Whelam is the King in Lead while Ordna, Bronze. Well, just saying.
I really enjoyed this book. James A. Moore's narration is very engaging and fluid, it's as if submerging myself in an entirely different world. But the imagery would have been clearer have the author finally decided to provide maps because the story has well extended beyond Tyrne. I finally had a glimpse of Old Canhoon (the formal Capital, now the City of Wonders home to sorcerors) and the islands of Brellar beyond the territory of the Guntha in Corinta Ocean. There are lots of places mentioned here for sure but their names wouldn't stick to mind because I don't have a map to orient myself. With this, I'm sure a lot of sorcery will be involved in the final book, might be the great Annihilation come again.
Speaking of drawing, once again I fell in love with the cover. The lack of maps has been compensated by the awesomeness of the cover. If I were to have more money in the future after the series is completed, I'd buy myself a box set of hardbound copies just because I'm in love with the covers. Cover, cover, cover (:rolls eyes:). I presume the cover is Tuskandru, only that the interpreted helmet isn't as imposing as what I had in mind. Still, it's a very lovely cover. For a trilogy, I hope Andover Laksh will be the cover for the last book.
What I both like and dread in this book is that you get to see people's perspectives on both sides— Kingdom of Fellein and the Seven Forges. If we're to see the characters of Fellein Kingdom as the protagonists, then the Sa'ba Taalors would be the enemies.
It was a bit fast-paced near the end that the shifting of perspectives was equally fast. Some in over 3 sentences, jumping from one to the next, encompassing about 4 places. Otherwise, the whole book was slow-paced because of the elaborate world-building. We get to understand the culture and traditions of the Sa'ba Taalor more.
The reason why I dread this is that I plan to write my own story in the future. I had the story in 3 continuous dreams since 2009 and a part of me lives in that world (I get to be all the characters but the female ones, save for a little girl). There might be styles by some authors doing something like what James A. Moore did for this series that I might employ subconsciously. I'm not writing my story yet because I think that I still have a lot to learn in the traditional fantasy world. Of course, mine would be different because I live in Asia and the story's mostly within the Asian cultures with the Asian feels, but on the same boat nonetheless when genre is concerned.
My point is that while as a reader, I get to see the perspectives of the enemies (same as that of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series), I tend to feel for the supposed evil people when my dreams only expressed dread on their side. What I intend was to write the perspectives of the evil people in such a way that anyone reading would be repulsed or too scared in their wits (like what most felt for Hitler, perhaps). But how can I do that now when I'm too sympathetic with characters on the "wrong side" of the story? Because what the author did for me in this book is for me to love the Sa'ba Taalors more and I could only offer a tiny bit of explanation.
Okay, I'm a sympathizer of the antagonists in books (or manga or anime) to begin with. But still!
A wise man knows when to keep his mouth shut.
If you write the plot in a template (the plot being motives of the characters), it's like watching anime. The flow is almost trope-like especially the excuse that the Sa'ba Taalors needed with the intentions of the Daxar Taalor.
Both sides have agreed to a parley (headed by Fellein's young and new empress, Nachia Krous and Seven Forges' Tarag Paedori, King in Iron) but ended with both sides' prides wounded. And so, Tarag Paedori laid out what everything they've done was all about. And now, every one is preparing for an all-out war. Well, both sides have prepared mostly the entire book but so far, if battle is concerned, none has drawn blood.
Tarag Paedori is the largest among the Sa'ba Taalors (Tusk *my-love, ehem!* falls second behind him). When the peace he offered was for Nachia Krous to be his bride so his gods will give Fellein Empire mercy (translation: perpetually kneel at their feet), this thought came unbidden: How shall they make love? Yeah, my thoughts are kind of naughty I just can't help myself. :widegrin:
The book was such a cliffhanger, I'm now curious as to what the newly introduced character, the Pilgrim has to offer and what his part really is in the story. I hope that this series is not another pacifistic one where no battle is actually fought at the crucial part of the story (like what happened to The Riyria Revelations). You know, I don't want to feel again as if all their preparations for war are for nothing.
But hope was a lovely thing to cling to when the winds were raging.
The Blasted Lands is a great read that I'm excited for the next book in the Seven Forges series. It actually is a great thing that I discovered this book prior to Seven Forges (the first book) that I find it smooth sailing reading The Blasted Lands hours after being done with Seven Forges.