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It’s a complicated story with a lot of POV’s and a lot of magic, so if you’re into that this one could be for you.
The audiobook was by Tim Gerard Reynolds which was just lovely, I adore his narrations and it gave this book an extra punch. However, that probably means I’m going to butcher these character names/places/monsters, my apologies Michael.
Bingo: Self Published, Getting Too Old For This
At 645 pages this was a really long and complicated book, so bear with me here in the plot and character sections. You can always go to the Audience section for a TLDR.
Not too long ago The White Tower purged as many wielders as they could eradicating all of the magic schools and academy’s in the realm. Magic was deemed evil and from then on wielders have been hunted down and dragged to a house of horrors where they are tortured to death and their magic is extracted — or they can turn coat and hunt down their peers.
There’s a villain called Cheeks who would give Ramsey Snow a run for his money, I’m not kidding. The guy gets off on torture, and unfortunately one of our protagonists, Ferrin, is trapped with this guy and needs to find a way out. Ferrin is a really light hearted dude, and super ridiculously resilient to torture. As weird as this sounds, even though his chapters featured a ton of torture, his smart assery and unbending will made it less grotesque and dark than it would have been if he had a broken spirit, like Reek/Theon Greyjoy. He has a mysterious cell mate who’s been there for decades, and it’s rumored no one has ever broken out of The White Tower before – but his wise old cell mate had almost made it because he’s a Seer, and he can tell where people are going to be and when.
Ty is a young kid who knows he’s been adopted, but doesn’t know his backstory. His backstory is actually the beginning of the book when a wizard, the last of his kind, is running from agents of the White Tower who want the baby for themselves. The child, Ty, has been marked for great power and if he falls into the wrong hands, the old wizard is ready to kill him instead. He grows up with a brother and two parents, always nice to see two alive parents in a coming of age plot. They are holding back a lot of information from him, and as it turns out they are running an underground railroad for wielders, saving them from the White Tower. His plot line has a lot to do with the resistance and their members – there are a lot of them. There’s a little subplot going on with him revolving around music that’s sort of reminiscent of Kvothe from KKC, extremely talented and magical like ability with music.
Kellan is Ty’s father, and he’s a leader of sorts of a resistance band harboring fleeing wielders, his job is dangerous and he works with his wife and other people in the town coordinating strikes against the White Tower and taking their prisoners.
Aryion is an amazing fighter that’s a guard to the king, I really liked his POV, he’s been in service to the king for decades and is a loyal decent person. He’s one of the only people to see through Valtors front and considers him a shady person. Valtor is in charge of purging people at the White Tower and an adviser to the Prince, but the King doesn’t know what’s going on at the White Tower.
The Prince, Drakaran, is a douche. He despises Aryion because his father really cares about the man, and he feels like he cares more about him than his own son. It’s not true, the King is actually a pretty decent person all things considered, but Drakaran sees what he wants to, so he plots to have Aryion killed with the help of Valtor.
There are more plots, but this is getting super long.
There are 19 POV’s in this book, so I can’t go into all of them.
- Ty – spunky somewhat disobedient child due to his unending curiosity which lands him into trouble a few times. He’s a pretty decent kid, even though I usually prefer older POV’s he was mature enough that I enjoyed his chapters.
- Valtor – evil as fuck villain POV. It’s counter intuitive but he’s capturing wielders to help build an army to strike back at those who were responsible for the purge. He’s creating horrible monsters from humans, sometimes children, and reading those chapters was really uncomfortable – shitty stuff happening to kids gets to me bad. He’s got the Prince wrapped around his finger and is trying to convince him to murder his father along with Aryion.
- Ferrin – This guy can take punishment and spit back witticisms, had he not had the spirit he did I would not have liked his chapters. The stuff done to him was insanely brutal. Cheeks the torturer has a healer come in and repair him so he’s fresh to go the next day, he rapes this girl repeatedly and uses the daughter they had together as leverage to get her to do what he wants. Ferrin feels bad for her and tries to help where he can, but she’s so damaged from her life she resists due to not trusting any men.
- Drakaran – such an asshole, I hated this character. He’s a self centered drunk who’s trying to ruin a decent person out of jealousy, and possibly commit patricide against a decent king. He’s insanely jealous of Aryion and is such an asshole to him, he even tries to steal Aryions lady friend.
19 POV’s is a lot for any book, and could be confusing for some, but in its favor you already know the POV’s you’re switching to after the first few are introduced. When you get to Orlyns or Lyessa’s chapters for instance you’re already well acquainted with them so it’s not too jarring.
I think this book did a decent job with showing both sides of a war, there was a man in the army who was rounding up wielders but he wasn’t necessarily a bad man. He didn’t know what happened to them in the Tower and assumed they were released after the purge, not following up on what happened to them after he turned them over. He suffered a loss at the hands of a wielder and you were able to empathize with why someone would join a force as horrible as The Black Guard (The White Towers soldiers). Although there was a classic horrible villain at the top, at the bottom of the enemy army you had average joes.
There are all sorts of monsters in this book, but since you witnessed how the monsters are made you can’t help but feel bad when they’re killed.
There are things called ‘sniffers’ which are lizard raven like things that are the ‘eyes’ of the White Tower, they were being used to track down the Wizard in the beginning of the book.
There are two different types of wielders, natural born who don’t need to use crystals, and those that have to use the crystals for anything magical to happen. The latter form is much more common.
There are tons of different kinds of magic, from the mundane like changing the taste of things, to fire mages, water mages, wind mages, talking to animals mages etc. There seems to be a kind of mage for everything, and they all have their own names and most people are born with a single gift.
There are traveling mirrors that allow fast travel from one place to the next.
There are giant spiders and other creepy monsters in addition to the human mutants.
There’s a creepy race of people who use human scalp capes and were hired to wipe out villages.
The Fay are responsible for most magic known to the world, when they busted through from their realm to the realm of men magic spilled into the world. There’s a lot of lore and world building around the Fay and their effects on the world.
There was a lot to take in with this book, there was action but there was also a lot of slow burn stuff going on with politics and backstabbery.
I’d say the tone was black humor, a lot of this world was really messed up but there were laughs along the way.
The writing was pretty straight forward and kept things moving quicker than if it had been more purpley which is good for a 645 page book.
- lots of POVs
- dark magic, torture, and monsters
- coming of age
- lots of magic
- underground magical resistance
- villain pov
- two sides of a war
- intense world building