I had started to dive into the audiobook for this a few weeks ago and decided to set it back down for when I was in the right mood. This is a very old-school tale, the major theme being light vs dark, good vs evil, humanity vs monsters. That’s a very tride and true trope that’s stuck with humanity across cultures and generations. There’s something alluring about have a clear hero and a clear enemy without having to overthink everything. The way it was told had a strong story-teller feel to it as well. It’s as if you’re sitting around a campfire being told a long but engaging story. There was a heavy emphasis on narrative while the dialogue and inner thoughts of characters didn’t ever really take center stage. It made me think of listening to a play, not only because of the narrative style, but because the audiobook itself, too. There was music, sound effects, and other touches to the audiobook that made it more of a theatrical experience than a standard audiobook. All of that is really neat, if I’m in the mood. So, I waited until that’s exactly what I wanted. A Tolkien-like tale set in a surreal world and I can just zone out and go somewhere else while listening.
Many times in fantasy books we start off with being shown the dark lord, then we get shown how he’s bad, then the armies fight and the goal of the series is to defeat the evil dude. This picks up after that’s happened, and it follows the consequences of what happens when humanity wins… and what it does with the humans who fought for the Dark Lord. Morrick was one of those people, but he didn’t have a choice, it was fight for the dark lord or face death. That doesn’t mean his new human overlords like him or forgive him for it. He has to prove his worth to these new authorities, prove he’s worth keeping around, and he also wants to get back home to his family.
Morrick’s family is in peril. His wife is fleeing from the last remnants of the dark lords army, they are these inhuman monster like things known as the Devised. I found her to be an interesting character but she sort of lost me by the end. She has a really fucked up story line and she spirals down into insanity and it’s all very depressing, but it didn’t hit home the way I think it was supposed to.
My favorite character was a dryad Ent-like being. He was once a human but now he’s dead and reborn as a dryad and he’s basically an Ent. He can travel through trees all over the realm and pop up at random places. I’ve seen Ents and tree-people as background world building material, or sometimes as secondary characters in a group. However, this is I believe the first time one has been a major POV, and it was really well done. I liked the dryads different perspectives on life and their alien like motivations since they’re no longer human — and the voices they used for the audiobooks were neat. The humans are killing the forest and cutting down the Mother Trees that spawn the Dryads… if the Mothers die, the Dryads die… and his story gets intertwined with Morrick’s storyline near the end, and this is when I really started to get invested in the both of them.
The pacing was pretty slow, it took a long time for the different POVs to become relevant to one another, and for their different plotlines to show any kind of relationship to one another. Once they finally did all come together, however, things started to pick up and went much more quickly from there. This is not a book for those who want lots of battles, though. I’d also say that it got a bit verbose in places, the prose got a little bloated and the plot meandered a bit making the pacing slow down in places.
This will appeal to people who like classic old school fantasy with the mystical and mysterious taking center stage.
- Plot: 10/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World Building: 12.5/15
- Writing: 12.5/15
- Pacing: 9/10
- Originality: 11/15
- Enjoyment: 7/10
Final Score: 73/100