The War of Undoing (Kyland Falls #1) by Alex Perry #SPFBO

Posted On 17 February 2018

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thewarThe War of Undoing was the first finalist that I’ve read from the SPFBO.  I have to admit that I was excited to read this one and pleased that it was my first book drawn randomly from the hat.  Overall this isn’t a bad read although I didn’t love it as much as I expected. It has more of a YA adventure feel in terms of tone but at the same time is a little weighted down with a plot that wanders and slows the pace as a result.

After the prologue we’re introduced to the Rainings.  Miller, Tay and Ellstone are siblings living in Tarot – and when I say living I really mean struggling.  Given up by their parents as babies they struggle to survive.  Miller is the eldest and works identifying magical artifacts.  A job which he’s quite good at and seems to enjoy.  Tay, the middle child tries to work and support the family but her temper usually gets in the way.  Tay is basically a very angry person.  Not without cause of course.  She and her brothers have been abandoned by their parents and left to live a life of hardship, even more so when the small stipend they have previously received to help them survive, is withdrawn without warning.  Ellstone is the youngest and loves to have his nose stuck in a book.  The three children are the narrators of the piece the other point of view coming from a young woman called Kisli who is training to become a soldier.

The world building is a little on the skimpy side although I liked that there were no info dumps.  We actually found out quite a lot of the history of the place through Ellstone’s love of reading which I really enjoyed.  Many years ago a war was fought between humans and Vumas (magic wielding beings who are quite similar to humans in many respects).  The humans (barely) won the war and since then have tried to prevent the use of magic.  Most Vumas live remote from humans but their constant persecution has led to a rebel uprising and a war is once again brewing.

In terms of the plot.  The children receive a rather cryptic and bloody message and as a result Tay and Ellstone find themselves on route to Eldermoon whilst their brother Miller remains behind.  From here the children are not only physically divided but also have conflicting ideas of what they hope to achieve.  Tay in particular is bent on revenge against her parents and feels that the Vumas will be the perfect way to exact such revenge.  What I actually really liked about the plot is that far from rushing into the cliche of the children becoming ‘the chosen ones’ who save the world the author takes a different route.  The children really play a small role in fact the ensuing war seems to take place around them, it isn’t the focus of the story and remains on the periphery.  The Vumas believe that the children will be their secret weapon and the humans also believe that they have a secret that will help them to once again defeat their enemy.


What I really enjoyed about this was that the author doesn’t go down the route of cliches, even though it felt like the story was screaming out to go down that path.  I thought there was some great emotion too.  Tay in particular, as I mentioned above, is very angry.  So angry in fact that really she’s the main catalyst in splitting the siblings apart and in fact her anger blinds her to almost all other considerations.  I also liked the way the story explores persecution and the idea that history is written by the winners and so might not always be a true representation.  These are really intriguing and thought provoking ideas that I thought were well integrated into the plot.  There’s also a childlike love of exploration going on here and an innocence or naivety displayed by all the POV characters that leads them to make mistakes – which in turn makes them feel much more credible.

In terms of criticisms.  This comes across as quite a young read and whilst I don’t mind that in some respects I readily admit I’m not the target audience.  A number of the characters just felt a little flat and in some places almost comic.  I really didn’t understand the parents or their motivations and was disappointed with the chapter where Tay finally meets her mother.  I could say more but I don’t want to let spoilers creep in.  The first 40/50% of the book is really quite slow and at first I had difficulty in separating any of the children’s voices as they all sounded somewhat similar.  This does resolve itself eventually and the pacing also picks up but there’s a lot to get through before these issues work themselves out.

Overall this was a good read and whilst it might not be one for me I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage others from reading.  I think it would work well aimed at a younger audience, particularly if it’s trimmed down a little to help the pacing issue.

My thanks to the author for a copy of The War of Undoing.




25 Responses to “The War of Undoing (Kyland Falls #1) by Alex Perry #SPFBO”

  1. Book Club Mom

    A very fair review!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks – I wish I’d loved this one but I don’t suppose you can love all the books all the time.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Tammy

    I’ve read several books lately that were surprisingly “young” and those never go well for me. I am excited to see how you like the other finalists, though!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it was a shame about this one. It definitely has a lot of plus points but it just felt too young for me.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Jennifer | Book Den

    I enjoy young fantasy so this one might work for me. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      You should give it a go. I like that the author doesn’t fall into the cliche trap. He focuses much more on the children and whilst they imagine themselves being the heroes of the piece that isn’t really what the story is about. It was a bit too young feeling for me but I hope you love it.
      Lynn 😀

  4. DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

    Despite the world-building lacking, between the multiple POVs, the plot, and Vumans, it actually sounds like there is a lot packed into this novel.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, on the face of it there’s plenty in the book, but I think this is about 600 pages so there are definite issues with pacing. For me the main thing is that this felt too young so whilst some people are going to love this it just didn’t quite work for me.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Hmmm… as soon as I heard YA adventure, I already suspected this might not be a good fit for me… then pacing issues. I am glad you did find elements to enjoy

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it’s a shame this one didn’t quite work for me – although plenty of others are loving this one so hopefully I don’t discourage anyone – just useful to know it has a younger adventure feel.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Carmen

    Too bad that this one, despite you liking some of it, didn’t work for you overall. It seems YA, like you said, and in serious need of a good editor. 😮

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think the pace would improve if it was maybe edited a little to make things more punchy. Not a bad read but not really my thing.
      Lynn 😀

  7. sjhigbee

    Despite some of the pacing issues, given that I enjoy reading good YA, I perhaps should check out this one – I enjoy the fact that the author has avoided the usual cliches. As ever, a detailed and fair-minded review, Lynn:)

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah. You should give it a try. In fact I think there was a bundle available for all the SPFBO finalists. Not sure if that’s still available. If you check out the #spfbo link on twitter you’ll be able to find the original offer I think.

      • sjhigbee

        Thank you – right now, though I’m a bit swamped… But I’ll make a note of this one:)

  8. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    A YA-feeling book that stays away from cliches…I have to say, that actually sounds like a breath of fresh air! I can understand how a story might present a challenge if it wasn’t what you were expecting though. I wish the book had a better cover too; it sounds like it has a lot to offer, but that cover doesn’t exactly scream “pick me up!” and that’s a shame.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah. The cover isn’t the best although it does have a Tolkien feel in terms of that arch and it is relevant to the story. I guess they’re going for an olde world journal type feel.

  9. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Once more I found myself thinking that as there are warnings about viewers’ age in movies and tv shows, so that younger people might not face issues they are not ready to deal with, so there should be age-range indications for books, to help readers make a more informed choice 🙂
    That said, the fact that this story in particular manages to avoid the tropes of the genre is indeed a point in its favor. Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      To be honest this book is receiving many great reviews. It felt a little young for me but it definitely works well for others. I’m not opposed to reading books aimed at a younger audience but I think I hadn’t realised it was the case with this book and sometimes you just start the read with the wrong expectations. Which is my issue really more than anything else. 😄

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