The Chronicles of the Black Gate by Phil Tucker – A review of Books 1 – 5

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Path of Flames, the first book in this series came in second place in the 2016 SPFBO contest and man did I have a hell of a ride with this series. It’s not over yet, but the audiobooks are over for me so I’m going to wait until the next audiobook releases to continue on to book 6. (I audiobooked all of this so my spelling may be off)

Overall Plotting and Pacing:

These books can easily be described as fast paced and action packed, I read through these so quickly it’s not funny. I did slow down a bit with book 3, it was significantly longer than book 2 and it dragged just a bit, but otherwise, this series sped along very nicely. Book 3 was the only 4 star in a 5 star series for me – and I’ve been rather stingy with my 5 stars since I started my grading system.

In Book 1 there’s a character named Tharric that’s sort of off to the side and you’re not sure how his arc is going to interact with the rest of the story, and with each book his story became more and more relevant to the other POV’s – it made for a really nice convergence that was satisfying and exciting.

Book 5 took things to an epic scale I haven’t read in a long time, there were thousands of demons, teleporting dragons, civil war, portal wars, monsters and just SO MUCH stuff going on my head was spinning. I was flying through these audiobooks, I think I read all 5 in a span of 2 weeks which is fast even for me. I re-arranged my reading schedule to fit these in.

Overall Characters:

Oh, Audsley, my dear Audsley. I really liked all of the characters, even the Craw warlord, but Audsley is where it’s at for me. I have a soft spot for non violent more book nerd characters and he was just the best. However, watching him struggle with his demons (literally) and being forced into violence was very interesting to read about and def pulled on my heart strings a few times. He went through a ton of change throughout the 5 books and I love that.

I think Tiron is my second favourite, and I think I’m going to include his character in my top 10 ‘redemption’ arc stories. He’s clearly had a very sordid past where he passively watched horrors committed in front of him and didn’t do anything to stop it – he’s also been the cause of a lot of bloodshed. Watching him find himself and try to be a better person by the end of book 5 was great. I usually don’t click with romance stories, but I really liked his relationship with Iska, it was sad and endearing all at the same time and seemed to happen naturally. I don’t see a lot of older characters starting on a new romance, and I enjoy it a lot more than the rushed and frenzied romances I tend to read about younger characters. I can put this on a short list of romances I thoroughly enjoyed in a book, and that’s saying something.

Iska, Kethe, and Tharric continue to be engaging characters, I think Tharrics chapters got more and more interesting as the series continued and when his arc finally intertwined with the others shit got real.

Overall Thoughts:

I highly recommend this series to people who enjoy epic fantasy with a lot of action, engaging multi-character plotting and TONS of various fantasy elements. The world building got more and more complex as the series progressed and it just kept building and building until book 5 where things just got so insane.

Overall Series Rating: 8.5/10 or 5 stars on goodreads.

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