#SPFBO Review (9): The Lost War (Eidyn #1) by Justin Lee Anderson

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  Stage 1 is now complete and the finalists can be found here. My previous book reviews can be found here, here, here, hereherehere, here and here. Today I am reviewing my final finalist.

The Lost War by Justin Les Anderson is the finalist put forward by the Booknest and you can find their review here.

LostWarSo, I’m going to start this review in a remarkably blunt fashion by saying it’s my favourite of the finalists. Although, I will say, that as I was reading this one, even though it was good, and although I knew something was coming, it felt a little generic. Okay, you need to stay with me here. Yes, this feels like a typical medieval world, things feel familiar, but at the same time things feel wrong, and, when you reach the conclusion you will know why. Now, I’m not the kind of reader who thinks it’s okay to redeem a story by giving readers a remarkable ending, but what we have here is something different – or more than that – this is a book that gives little hints along the way, a trail of breadcrumbs that leaves you with an overall feeling of disquiet.  It’s  not a book that you’ll second guess, at least I don’t imagine so, but it will be a book that will eventually take you by complete surprise.

So, this is a book that doesn’t let up,  It starts by introducing a few characters in a dilemma and from there the pace is pretty relentless. Aranok is a draoidh, he wields magic.  He travels with his bodyguard Allandria, a skilled archer and he is the kings envoy.  War has been waged, lands have been ravaged and although the enemy has been defeated the threat is far from over.  Aranok,and his companions, are sent on a mission, one in which they don’t entirely trust each other even though they face many foes together.

Okay, I will say, that for a large part of this tale there is a sense of familiarity. We have a typical fantasy setting, characters that feel comfortable and a certain amount of conflict.  The characters we initially meet head off with a mission and before we know it encounter problems.  They’re beset with demons and other foes and every way they turn lies danger.  Like me, you may begin to wonder why anybody would ever travel abroad with so many threats in store and it certainly felt like winning the war hadn’t really achieved a favourable outcome or easy place in which to live. I enjoyed the strong sense of feeling at home with this book.  It felt comfortable to read and easy to get on with.  The pacing is excellent and there was a constant sense of movement coupled with an ever growing sense of unease.

I think it might be best not to discuss the plot too much. There is a mission, there is an overriding compulsion to ignore the mission, and there is much danger along the way.

In terms of the characters, well, I can’t deny I was pretty much on board with them all. I liked them in exactly the way the author intended. There are a few characters involved in the story and you might not initially warm up to them all but they all have their roles to play and I confess that I formed attachments to them all.  Which is quite impressive really. Plus, given the ending I’m looking forward to reading more about them in the next instalment.

The setting feels familiar.  A land that has seen war.  The country is still ravaged.  On top of that plague and other unmentionables still threaten the people. There are demons and undead out in the wilds, not to mention bandits and something else that seems even worse.

To be honest, I don’t want to say too much about this one for fear of giving away spoilers.   This is a book that will make you feel you know what’s going on.  Like me, you may imagine you can guess the eventual reveal, and there certainly are hints along the way, but I never second guessed the actual reveal.

In terms of criticisms.  There is a little bit of build up – but not enough to really be a problem.  I think my biggest issue became the draoidhs.  It starts to feel like there are too many possibilities for their particular talents – like there are literally no boundaries which makes it feel like any situation could be rescued.

This probably feels slightly vague in some respects but I’m trying to keep things under wraps.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 8.5


6 Responses to “#SPFBO Review (9): The Lost War (Eidyn #1) by Justin Lee Anderson”

  1. Tammy

    I’m so curious about this now! I love books that surprise me, they don’t come along that often.

  2. Ola G

    You’ve made me very curious, Lynn! 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I know one should not judge a book by its cover, but this one is very impressive and gives a good idea of the ravaged world you describe…

  4. Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] by Justin Lee Anderson, which was coincidentally also the winner of the competition.  My review is here.  I also completed The Girl and the Mountain by Mark Lawrence which was a very good second […]

  5. Top Ten Tuesday : My Ten Most Recent Reads | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson.  This is the winner of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition.  Great fantasy with a twisted conclusion. I gave this 8.5 out of 10 so just over 4 of 5 stars. […]

  6. Friday Face Off : The Hood #wyrdandwonder | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] read and in fact the winner of the most recent Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition.  The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson is a very good book that I heartily recommend, and, unusually (for self […]

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