#SPFBO : The Way Into Chaos (The Great Way #1) by Harry Connolly

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wayintoThe Way into Chaos is my seventh book of the finalists from the #SPFBO leaving me with two final books to review to complete the competition.  WiC was a very pleasant surprise, an easy read and an epic feeling fantasy that I felt brought something new to the table.

The book gets off to a quick start with the introduction of a number of characters all making ready for a big event.  The Evening People are due to visit.  Using a portal this race of beings visit Peradain (I think annually although I’m not 100% on that) and dependent upon whether the visit goes well and the events are well received the Evening People bestow a ‘gift’.  These ‘gifts’ are then used and adapted to achieve various forms of magic.  Of course the people in Peradain are anxious to please, they sit at the heart of the kingdom and are a force to be reckoned with due to their magical prowess.  Until the latest visit, when instead of the Evening People coming through the portal a swathe of monsters breaks through and runs amok killing people, destroying the city and murdering the King and Queen.  Named ‘Grunts’ these beasts resemble bears to a certain extent but they are much quicker and stronger and their killing ferocity is impossible to resist.  A few people manage to escape the massacre and from there forward the story really begins.  A sort of cat and mouse chase really.  A group of survivors trying to reach other cities and warn others of the threat which now looms.  Monsters running amok killing in an almost, what feels to be random fashion and, unfortunately, at the same time, politics and back stabbing rearing their ugly heads when other Tyrs (Lords) of the Kingdom decide to use this as an opportunity to amass power.

The story follows two main characters.  Tyr Tejohn Treygar, became a Lord for his services to the kingdom.  He’s an older guy with a wealth of experience and a rather no nonsense manner that has earned him the nickname ‘Stoneface’.  He owns no land due to his humble beginnings and acts as bodyguard/fight master to the Prince.  Cazia Freewell is a scholar in Predain.  She’s actually a ward, a hostage to good behaviour following a failed rebellion by her father, but she’s lived at the Court, taking part in lessons with the Prince for so long, that she is completely loyal at this point.  The two escape from the City in a flying machine, accompanied by the Prince, Cazia’s brother and a number of others amongst them an Indregai Princess, betrothed to the Prince, known as Ivy.  The characters then split with both taking different routes.  Fortunately I enjoyed both of these storylines for very different reasons and felt like the supporting characters were also really good additions.  Particularly the Princess.  She’s only 12/13 but she’s such a good character to read about – I loved her background and the maturity she showed under such duress and for me she made that storyline carry more of an emotional impact that actually changed the way I felt about Cazia.

The world feels like a standard fantasy style setting but with the addition of magic (gifted) that allows things such as healing stones, and flying machines.  The magic comes with a cost and those magicians that become too ambitious can find themselves ‘hollowed’ out – which does sound rather unpleasant to say the least.  We don’t really get a lot of information about the Evening People, have they too been massacred by the Grunts or is this part of a bigger plan?  These things remain unanswered at this stage.  The Grunts themselves are one of a number of very interesting creatures.  Their own development is a twist I didn’t see coming to be honest and it felt very unique in this sort of story.  There are plenty of other fascinating beasties which I won’t delve into here so as not to spoil the surprises along the way.

In terms of criticisms.  I think the pacing was a little inconsistent. As mentioned the story bolts out of the starting gates with great fervour, it then dithers a little and almost has a feel of repetition until again, around a third of the way in the action picks up and with two different threads there is plenty to spark the interest.  Also, be aware that this is very much the start of the series.  There are no resolutions at the end of the book and so if that’s a pet niggle you might want to bear it in mind.  As it is, it makes me keen to see what comes next.

I enjoyed this, it kept my attention really well, apart from an initial pacing blip, and I found myself becoming invested in the characters.  It has an older style fantasy feel in that I wouldn’t describe it as ‘grimdark’ – there is plenty of killing and bloodshed but it feels a little more old school and a little less visceral, the language is also kept clean by the invention of some creatively clean cursing.

Overall I rated this 7.5 – not quite sure how that translates on Goodreads – 3.75 I suppose.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

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9 Responses to “#SPFBO : The Way Into Chaos (The Great Way #1) by Harry Connolly”

  1. Tammy

    I’m not sure how I would feeling about “clean cursing.” I love swearing personally😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m not averse to a bit of cursing either – I think though that this is probably trying to cast the net a little further by keeping it clean.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    A 7.5 out of 10 for a debut novel sounds like a very good rating, indeed. The pacing problems might indicate a need for some thorough editing, but the premise sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m not sure if this was a debut tbh – some of the authors who enter have written books already and I think HC is one such. It was good though.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’d heard some good things about this one, even from way back when I was following the author’s kickstarter campaign. I’m curious to take a look!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was an enjoyable read with two interesting threads to follow.
      Lynn 😀

  4. jessicabookworm

    Lynn, with all that killing and bloodshed perhaps not the book for me, but I am glad to hear you enjoyed it. Roll on your last two SPFBO books. 😀

  5. vacuouswastrel

    Very unusually (this is not a genre noted for innovation, let’s be honest), that actually sounds like an interesting premise!
    I did groan a little when you got to describing the characters, but I guess there’s only so many archetypes that can feasibly be used, so…

    • @lynnsbooks

      I actually enjoyed this one more than I expected – and yes, I think when you read so many books eventually you begin to wonder if anything will really strike you as innovational but every now and again…

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