Faeries… The fae… The stuff of bedtime stories and fables.
But sometimes the faerie tales are true. Sometimes they are a warning…
For a hundred generations the fae have been locked away from the world, in the cold, the Outside. They have faded out of sight and mind, into myth and folklore. But now the barriers are weakening and they push against the tattered remnants of the wyrde as they seek a way to return.
As a new religion spreads across the world, sweeping the old ways and beliefs away before it, a warlike people look across the frozen ocean towards the shores of Anlan, hungry for new lands. War is coming, even as the wyrde of the Droos is fading.
As the fae begin to force their way through the shreds of the wyrde, will mankind be able to accept the truth concealed in the tales of children in time to prepare for the Wild Hunt?
Disclaimer : I received a copy from the author in return for a review.
This is a fairy tale, with a dark twist (as seems almost a requisite nowadays in fantasy) – the fairies, or Fae, to use the fancy term, are out for blood. It was a fun read overall, with a few missteps along the way.
I liked the book’s writing. It flows nicely, and is very easy to get into and keep going. I’m a firm believer in the windowpane theory, in that prose is like a window to the story. It should be simple and clear, so that reader can focus on the story and not be distracted by the words. And Graham Austin-King manages that nicely. The language is simple, but doesn’t feel bare or stunted. Real smooth and enjoyable to read.
The plot is good enough, with a very Game of Thrones vibe. The book starts off by showing us a glimpse of the Fae, and their magic powers and not-good intentions, and then shifts gears to a conflict between the people of Anlan, your standard issue medieval fantasy kingdom, and the nearby Barren Islands, home to a warlike people called the Bjornmen. The Bjornmen’s isles are, as the name hints, barren, and so they want to take some of that nice fertile land that Anlan has. And while you watch this conflict unfold, there is always a backdrop of tension and dread, because you know the Fae are coming.
One thing that irked me was the haphazard jumps in the timeline. The book sometimes jumps years, sometimes weeks, sometimes months ahead. Add in the multiple locales and viewpoints, it took some mental gymnastics to keep the whole story straight. And I’m not sure I have it straight. Fortunately the story is otherwise nicely done and easy to follow.
The worldbuilding was good enough, what little there was. We don’t really get to see much beyond a few villages and one island city. But this is the first book in the trilogy, so there’s plenty of time for more.
The characters, I felt, were something of a weak point. They felt rather generic and bland. The orphan in the woods, the warrior in training, the simple but good-natured villagers… They’re not badly written, just that I didn’t really care much for any of them too much, with the possible exception of Kloss. In fact, a few of them felt just a bit unnecessary – the prime example being the duchess Selena.
I have higher hopes from the next entry in the series though, because in the last quarter, the books starts to pick up some pace and tension. The Fae finally arrive in earnest, and I’m looking forward to how these three mutually opposed sides end up – the people of Anlan vs. The Bjornmen vs. The Fae. And I’m also eager to find out more about the Fae themselves, their motivations and history.
In summary – enjoyable writing, decent plot, but lacks really interesting characters. Fun read, but feels rather generic in places. Becomes significantly better towards the end, so looking forward to book two.