Voice of War by Zack Argyle

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I liked this one from the start. I tend prefer high fantasy over low fantasy, so when I hit a book that has lots of magic referenced early on as well as a more structured magic system – I get excited. This one will be for people who like Brent Weeks/Brandon Sanderson sorts of books.

There are two major and well known kinds of magic, there are blue threadweavers and green threadweavers – and those who can use those magics have eye color that matches. The different magics are in harmony with each other too, with one magic that’s able to “push” while the other “pulls”. Those powers allow the wielders to walk up walls, jump high into the air, or become immovable. Every once in a while there’s someone who has heterochromia and can weave both colors, and in very rare instances there are Amber weavers and black weavers (again, with eyes that match). Most people are born with brown eyes and are unable to weave either magic and they’re known as achromatics. Each household is allowed two children, but, you can keep a third if they are a magic wielder. If the third child has brown eyes, however, they are blinded and given to the priesthood.

Chrys is a blue weaver and also a General who was once a commoner but has risen through society. He is hesitantly accepted among his peers, but because he’s climbing the ranks so quickly that he’s ruffling feathers on his way up the ladder. He’s also known as the Apogee, and has a voice in his head that he gained after a particularly bloody battle that gave him the nickname Butcher. The voice constantly begs him to let him “free”, but when he does, he blacks out and a bunch of people end up dead. Chrys is constantly struggling with this voice to keep his temper and rage in check. Chrys been assigned to a very important problem the city is facing… there are blood thieves are capturing threadweavers and enslaving them to sell their blood on the black market. Achromatics can drink the blood of a weaver and then are able to have a low level experience of magic – they are able to see the threads but they can’t touch them. ..the experience is novel, exciting, and worth money.

Then there’s Loral. She’s a spunky young kid who wants to get out and see the world. She’s from a culture that are strictly secluded and lives in the wilderness in a tree top city. Down below there are chromawolves, a type of very large dire wolf that can blend into their surroundings. In packs they are incredibly violent and a huge threat to humans. Her people call Chrys’s people “Grounders”, (since they live on the ground), but they keep their distance and have strict and fierce punishments for people who break the rules and try to make contact. Loral is also a thread addict, it’s possible to become dependent on the rush, the strength, and the confidence one gets when light weaving. She’s kicked out of the Messengers for being an addict, and in retaliation she goes into the Grounder city ….. even though her big secret is she escaped capture from that very city she’s returning to.

There are a couple side POV’s that come in much later… like this dude who dies and comes back to life. His chapters started out pretty short and very spread out with the main focus being on Loral and Chrys… but as the book progresses he is slowly worked in as a more important character. His whole chapters are largely spoilery.

The pacing mostly worked for me, especially in the beginning before Alverex (I audiobooked) was introduced. The first 11% of the book was from Chrys’s perspective and it let me get my feet firmly planted in the world, as well as get to know Chrys enough to care about him so I would be excited to get back to his chapters and remember what was going on. From there Loral and he alternated pretty smoothly back and forth. When the page time started to focus more on Alverex I felt the pacing start to get a little uneven, but it’s possible because I just didn’t know the character enough to care about him and I just wanted to get back to the “meat” of the story. The pacing was helped along by the very straight forward prose, there’s not a lot of time spent on being flowery, descriptive, and there isn’t any meandering or meaningless side distractions that branch too far away from the main plot.

The narration for this was great, an excellent choice for this kind of story, a deeper tambour that has diversity in tone and pitch.

This is still in the running for SPFBO 6 – but this was also a review request of mine. My views are my own and I’m also leaving this unrated.