#SPFBO 8 The World Breaker Requiem (Adjacent Monsters #2) by Luke Tarzian : Review

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What is SPFBO? Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

This year we have chosen four Semi Finalists.  See the announcement posts here and here.  I have since read both of the CC’s SFs and will now be reviewing both in fairly short order.  My review for Ever Alice is here.  Then we have the difficult job of choosing just one book to move forward.

Today is my final review for Phase 1 of the competition. Today I will be reviewing The World Breaker Requiem (Adjacent Monsters #2) by Luke Tarzian.

The World Breaker

What an unusual story this is.  On the face of it, looking at the description, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this would be typically fantasy(ish) following the age old and much beloved trope of the ‘quest’.  And, indeed, this does very much follow a journey for two key characters searching for, effectively, a magical artifact, but more than that seeking redemption.  However, this has a totally different quality to it.  This is dark, surreal fantasy that places us in the middle of hostile territory whilst at the same time surrounding us with beautiful, almost poetic, prose that absolutely belies the gruesome nature of the story.

In Requiem we essentially follow two characters who are searching for The Raven’s Rage, a sword that is believed to hold the key to new beginnings, to roll back time taking  people back to happier times and places wiping the slate clean of wrongdoing or regret.  Imagine having the ability to turn back time, to whisper apologies to loved ones or breach yawning caverns of separation that have grown over the years.  This is the Raven’s Rage and Requiem takes us on a journey for two people determined to find redemption.

Avaria Norrith is a Prince who seeks the sword to try and change the past,wipe it out and return to times long since lost.  Erath is born of the mountains where her people have long been imprisoned. She seeks release and is curious about the sword and whether or not it can change the fate of her people.  Ultimately the two will accompany each other on their search. However, interfering ‘others’ not to mention hell hounds with destruction in mind are in pursuit.

This is a dark and unkind world.  In fact I think the best description I can think of is nightmarish and horror filled.  It feels like a world trapped in the aftermath of an apocalypse with a lack of anything warm or endearing but, before you balk at that description, the author gives the story an hypnotic feel that makes you read the pages too quickly, if truth be told, in a desperate rush for information.

The writing.  How to describe this without becoming repetitive.  Tarzian as a style of his own, a modern voice in fact, lyrical and quite entrancing.  Short punchy sentences help to keep the momentum and emotions high.  There are quick paced chapters and frequent changes to characters.  In fact, at this point, I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that I’m not totally sure I have a handle on the characters involved.   There’s a certain element of unreliableness to the characters and a decidedly unsettling feel of chopping and changing, being given alternate names and the unexpected confusion that this causes.  Bear with me though.  For me, I was reading into this story on a different level.  To me the journey felt more like a mental voyage and maybe one of self discovery and coming to terms with things as much as anything else and read in such a way this is undoubtedly a powerful narrative.  Which isn’t to say that everyone will read this story in this way.  This feels like a book that could resonate with people in many different ways, particularly given the grief and heartache that the two central characters are trying to overcome.

In terms of criticisms.  Not really a criticism for the book so much as myself, but I definitely feel like a second read would be helpful.  My problem is this constant race to discover what’s taking place and this was exacerbated with Requiem due to the different quality and feel of the story as a whole which just pushed me forward at an almost breakneck speed. Undoubtedly a dark read and one that will be received differently by readers dependent on mood variations.

Overall, I thought this was a powerful story of grief and loss and the lengths people will go to in search of redemption or the possibility to turn back time.  It strongly sits in the grimdark genre and yet it has an hypnotic style that makes you stop and backtrack at certain points in order to really capture the essence of what’s being said.

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

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2 Responses to “#SPFBO 8 The World Breaker Requiem (Adjacent Monsters #2) by Luke Tarzian : Review”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Since I’m not afraid of darkness in books, and given what you say about this story and the writing style, I might take the plunge on this one… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Tammy

    This sounds unusual but very good. I love that it has darker themes and elements😁

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