#SPFBO Review :  Out of the Dust by Joe Coates  

Posted On 11 October 2021

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Out of the Dust by Joe Coates is the second book I picked up from my fourth batch of books.   My update post will be up soon but I want to post all three reviews first.  My reviews so far are linked below and you can find feedback from my first, second and third batch of books here, here and here and further information on SPFBO here.

OOTD

I got off to a slightly shaky start with this one but eventually found myself enjoying it.  The writing is good and very easy to get along with and I really liked the western feel.

The story follows a gang of cattle rustlers who are committing one last crime before going their separate ways.  The brains of the outfit, is Viggo Shaw and he is joined by his brother and sister Ylva and Destin.  Viggo is hoping to settle down with the love of his life, Erika, who is expecting their first child.  Unfortunately, as with most of the best laid plans, things go horribly wrong.  Viggo finds himself captured by a blast from his past, a vicious man who hates Viggo and unfortunately has the power and resources to do something about it.  Cormac Latrell is the bastard son of the Viceroy Corbin Cadmael who all but rules the Northern Isles in place of the senile king.  Father and son both have a fascination with a magic ability that has all but died out and Latrell is hunting for a woman who wields elemental magic.

So, I mentioned above that I got off to a slightly shaky start and this is primarily because I found Viggo and his siblings a little difficult to get along with at first.  This is a brutal gang, they kill first and ask questions later.  Without doubt the Southern Isles play second fiddle to the prosperous Northern Isles being used to provide cattle and produce at low prices, the farmers are underpaid and worked hard and the majority of the profit is pocketed by the northern nobility who rarely lift a finger.  Definitely this is an unjust world, not to mention a world that is slowly turning to dust due to wildfires and scorching heat.  I can certainly see why the people of the Southern Isles would feel disgruntled but nonetheless I didn’t really like the gang’s casual violence or the way they dish out death.  That being said I soon found myself becoming immersed in spite of my earlier reluctance.

I don’t want to give away spoilers so will avoid too much elaboration about the plot. Viggo and his gang become embroiled in a race to find the woman who wields magic before Latrell can find her.

The author does a really good job of providing background for the characters. We easily slip into snapshots from the past where we start to get a feel for the history between Viggo and Latrell and what shaped them into their current iterations and this helps the reader to see that nothing is ever as clear cut as it first seems.  Viggo had a harsh family background that left him protective of his brother and sister.  Latrell also had a hard upbringing facing the constant disappointment of the Viceroy who frequently resorted to violence.  Things became more complicated when the two began to vy for the attention of the same woman and from there their differences became irreconcilable.

I really enjoyed the setting.  I find myself enjoying western style fantasy and would definitely like to read more although the fantasy elements here are a little subdued (that being said this is the first instalment so the fantasy aspects could be stronger in later editions). I would mention that this is definitely both grim and dark so be aware of that before picking this up.  There is death, torture and unbridled violence contained in these pages, I wouldn’t say that this was gratuitous but it was certainly dark.

In terms of the characters.  Well in spite of my earlier feelings I found myself reluctantly rooting for Viggo and his companions.  They are definitely characters with a shady past but their stories help you to see past some of that and their genuine feelings for each other definitely shine through.  These are not black and white characters and I enjoyed the complexity of their personalities, even Latrell who definitely shapes up to become a really horrible monster.

Criticisms.  Well, as I mentioned this is fairly light on fantasy.  There is an element to the plot that is, well, let’s just say overused – the death of a certain person becoming the motivator for everything that follows. There is also a little foreshadowing here that definitely made it easy to foresee certain aspects and the way they would play out.  Plus a slight feeling of Viggo and his crew going from place to place with disaster following swiftly on their heels. It started to feel like they were never more than half a step in front of their pursuers and frequently led mayhem to those who tried to help or offer shelter.  But, all that being said I would, without doubt, like to read more.

Overall, in spite of my initial reluctance I fairly swiftly found myself becoming immersed in this world and enjoying the author’s style.

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

My SPFBO reviews to date:

  1. Deathborn by CE Page
  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts
  5. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
  6. Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks
  7. Book of Secrets by Claudia Blood
  8. Dragonbirth by Raina Nightingale
  9. Carrion by Alyson Tait
  10. Iarraindorn by Phil Dickens
  11. Rising Shadows (The Pillar of Creation, #1) by Phillip Blackwater
  12. By the Pact by Joanna Maciejewska
  13. Little White Hands by Mark Cushen

2 Responses to “#SPFBO Review :  Out of the Dust by Joe Coates  ”

  1. Tammy

    I love Western settings for fantasy books, so this sounds like my kind of book😁

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Your comments showed me how perseverance is often the key to discovering good stories: a shaky start might indeed morph into an engrossing read 🙂

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