#SPFBO Review (2): The Fall of Erlon (Falling Empires Saga #1) by Robert H Fleming

Artboard 1

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 first finalist review can be found here.

FallofToday I’m posting my review for the second SPFBO finalist that I’ve read – The Fall of Erlon by Robert H Fleming.  This was an interesting read in that it steps away from the often used mediaeval fantasy setting and instead opts for a flintlock style with an alternative Napoleonic history.  The story very much focuses on military strategy and warfare with a fairly low fantasy feel (at the moment at least) involving interference from Gods and manipulation and use of animals such as birds (that share a connection with their handler allowing the person to literally experience a ‘bird’s eye view’ of things).  There are references to sorcery and sorcerers but magic is not really used during the course of the story (although the epilogue shows promise for more in further instalments).  At this point I enjoyed Fall of Erlon although I did have a few issues that I will get to below.

In terms of plot. Well, we start out with the failing Empire, an Emperor in exile and armies advancing on Erlon.  The Emperor’s daughter (Elisa) has been placed in a safe house of sorts and the Emperor’s wife (a sorcerer) is also missing.  The advancing armies, which combine allies from different countries, are on the march and Erlon is about to crumble under the force.  On top of this, one of the forces in particular is determined to find Elisa and the main focus of the book revolves around this pursuit.

In terms of characters I’ll point out a few for easy reference.  We have HRH King Nelson of Brun who spends the majority of the book in discussion with the exiled Emperor Lannes (master strategist and much beloved and respected by his people).  Elisa Lannes, daughter to the Emperor and Princess of Erlon who will, prompted by guidance from a God-like apparition, flee her home.  Prince Rapp of Wahring whose father King Charles currently leads a coalition of Brunian and Wahring forces on to the city of Erlon. Scythe Commander Andrei who leads an elite force in secret search of the Princess, Andrei is one of the Kurakins, currently allied with the other forces against Erlon.  The Scythes have a terrible reputation, elite soldiers made more fearsome by their pointed teeth and the vicious Wolverines that they ride upon.  Marshal Alexandre Lauriston, the Emperor’s most trusted leader and his counterpoint General Pitt who rides with King Charles but despairs a little about the progress they make.

Now, as you can see from the above, and I may have made this seem over complicated in which case apologies, there are a number of characters to take on board (in fact there are two other POVs that I haven’t mentioned at this point as their parts are fairly small), not to mention a lot of history and geography to absorb, so whilst this started out really well I did feel that things slowed down a little as I tried to take everything on board.  Essentially though this story focuses very much on Elisa, her flight from the enemies who seek her and the help she encounters along the way so I think you need to keep that in mind whilst reading.

In terms of what I liked here.  Obviously some of the characters appealed to me more than others and the last 30% or so really helped in that respect as the pacing picked up and the stakes became higher.  Each character has their own well defined role to play which is built upon as the treachery begins.  I think the writing is easy to get along with and considering how much information and history there is to be delivered the author does a remarkable job of keeping the page count under control.  In fact, if anything, I would say this could have been lengthened slightly.  I really like the setting and alternate history feel although I confess I’m no expert on the Napoleonic wars so any possible parallels here would be lost on me and so I’m not going into much detail in that respect. I’m also intrigued by the concept here – it’s more than a simple war or take over because there’s the whole mystery of why Elisa is so important to the overall outcome and what role the magic will eventually play – and whether that will work out well or not.

Now, in terms of criticisms.  Well, I think this may be a little over ambitious in terms of povs and whilst I understand the need for some of these in order to take onboard things happening in a large landscape,for me, some of the characters didn’t feel totally distinct, there were muddied lines and very similar feelings, particularly by way of insecurities and doubts.  I think rather than including more and more viewpoints in order to let the reader see what was taking place across the empire, I would perhaps have preferred interludes or field reports, or some such device instead.  I also felt like there was a bit of repetition in the first two thirds of the book where we jumped from character to character as they moved forward on the map but with some of the chapters feeling very similar to what had come before.  In this way I think some of the tension and fear was lost a little for me.  I think, what I’m trying to say, in a very round the houses fashion, is I would have preferred to really focus on a few of these characters and develop stronger feelings for them.  I also didn’t really enjoy the ‘summit’ storyline – I understand the purpose of it being included – but, it didn’t bring a great deal to the story in my opinion or at least the overall point seemed a little too obvious for me.

Overall, I enjoyed The Fall of Erlon and given the ending would be interested to see what happens next particularly as much of the mystery remains unsolved and there is still so much potential to explore.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars or 7 out of 10

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


#SPFBO – Not a Review : Finalist Reading Schedule, Book #2

Artboard 1

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 .

During Stage 2 I will read, review and score the remaining 9 finalists as will the other judges until a winner is revealed.  As with previous years I have given each of the 9 books a number and randomly selected a reading order.  Today’s post is to highlight the second book I will be reading and provide information regarding that particular finalist.  The first finalist I read was Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire.  This was a great start to the finals and my review can be found here.

My second finalist will be :

The Fall of Erlon (The Falling Empires Saga #1) by Robert H. Fleming

The Fall of Erlon is the finalist selected this year by The Critiquing Chemist.  Their review can be found here and below is the description and author details:


As empires burn, heroes must rise.

Elisa Lannes was once heiress to the mighty Erlonian Empire. But when her mother abandons the empire and her emperor father is defeated on the battlefield and sent into exile, the world she would rule collapses around her. As enemies converge on the capital, Elisa must join with the last of the empire’s loyal soldiers to escape the evil that hunts her and her family.

With the help of her father’s generals, can Elisa find the strength to fight for her people? Or will a twist in the tide of the empire’s last war awaken an evil far greater than the enemy’s blade?

The Fall of Erlon is the first in the new military fantasy series from author Robert H. Fleming. If you like deep fantasy worlds filled with colorful characters and massive battles, the gods and generals of the Falling Empires Saga is for you.



#SPFBO : Stage 1 Complete

Artboard 1

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.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the links and my finalist announcement can be found here.

So, the first stage of the competition is now complete, 10 finalists have been chosen, the finalist page over at Mark Lawrence’s blog can be found here but for quick reference below are all the finalists with links to Goodreads:


Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw



The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin



The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson



Black Stone Heart by Michael R Fletcher



Darkness Forged by Matt Larkin

Darkness Forged


Voice of War by Zack Argyle



The Fall of Erlon by Robert H Fleming



A Wind From the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree



Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire



Nether Light by Shaun Paul Stevens



Congratulations to all the finalists and good luck in Stage 2 😀