The Trials of Koli (Rampart Trilogy#2) by MR Carey

Trialsof

The Trials of Koli is the second in Mr Carey’s Rampart trilogy and was an enjoyable instalment that has left me keen to read the final chapter when it arrives. The first book in the series, The Book of Koli didn’t work out quite as well for me as I’d hoped but this is an author that I really like so I was determined to continue with the series to see which direction the story would take.

I felt that book 2 was much improved by the addition of a new pov narrator and also by the inclusion of some very interesting world building.

Anyway, not to get ahead of myself here, let’s start from the beginning with a brief introduction and obligatory warning that being the second book in series this review may contain spoilers. Also, in my opinion, I do not believe this should be read as a standalone so if you haven’t read the first in series my suggestion is to pick up The Book of Koli first.

So, the story continues almost immediately where book 1 concluded. Koli, Cup and Ursula are making progress travelling across the country, following some sort of signal, in the hopes of reaching London (where they believe they will find new hope). Along the way they meet with a number of distractions, not least of which seems to be a band of hunters who are intent on separating them from their tech. In some respects this is a dog eat dog type of world and the few existing remnants from bygone times are much sought after. Koli and Ursula between them have two very impressive piece of such tech and so it’s no surprise that they find themselves encountering difficult situations from time to time.

Added to this we return to the village where Koli was born, raised and eventually shunned where we follow in the footsteps of Spinner. Spinner recently married into the Ramparts, seriously disappointing Koli at the time who had romantic feelings towards her. We observe her as she is (rather frostily) welcomed into the new family home and then follow her progress from there onwards. I really enjoyed this aspect to the story, the politics of the small village, how the villagers are manipulated and how Spinner, herself a clever young woman, goes through strife before finding a comfortable foothold.

I won’t elaborate further on the plot but let you discover things firsthand. What I will share here instead is the aspects that particularly worked for me.

Firstly, the return to Koli’s village and the inclusion of a fresh and bright POV that continued to deliver a narrative that demonstrates how difficult life is in this new brutal world.

Secondly, observing a little more of the world via Koli’s travels. The group eventually come upon a small fishing village and it’s here that we learn a lot more about some of the key characters, particularly Cup, and also witness the power of this new world and some of the more dangerous aspects, such as Knotweed.

Thirdly, I think, having read quite a number of post apocalyptic style stories there is the inevitable, almost weariness, that comes through witnessing the downward spiral in the way people treat each other, and there were definite elements of that in book 1 and also in this instalment. Group A becomes bigger than Group B and so resorts to brute force to take what it wants and thus become even more powerful and bullying. However, this book quite pleasantly surprised me in that respect by actually offering up a village of people that were kind (mostly) and that whilst struggling to survive, retained some modicum of decency (although there was one particularly twisted individual determined, like a fly in the ointment, to cause trouble).

In terms of criticisms. There is still an element to this that feels very similar to stories that are already out there, but, I thought this became a lot more intriguing when some of the local flora and fauna became more menacing. There is also an element to Koli that prevents me from totally liking him as a character – which seems quite unreasonable in many respect because he certainly isn’t an offensive person. But, I find that I’ve become more attached to some of the others and I thought Cup and Spinner made for very interesting reading. Also, be aware if you’re intending to pick up this series that this is a story being told by Koli who has his very own style of narration that can take a little getting used to at first. This is an aspect however that I thought was well done and a good reflection of how language changes and adapts over the years.

Overall, I enjoyed this one more than I expected, I guess that could be as a result of not over-hyping myself this time around and, given the ending, I’m very curious to read the final instalment.

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

My rating 4 of 5 stars