The War of Undoing (Kyland Falls #1) by Alex Perry #SPFBO

Posted On 17 February 2018

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thewarThe War of Undoing was the first finalist that I’ve read from the SPFBO.  I have to admit that I was excited to read this one and pleased that it was my first book drawn randomly from the hat.  Overall this isn’t a bad read although I didn’t love it as much as I expected. It has more of a YA adventure feel in terms of tone but at the same time is a little weighted down with a plot that wanders and slows the pace as a result.

After the prologue we’re introduced to the Rainings.  Miller, Tay and Ellstone are siblings living in Tarot – and when I say living I really mean struggling.  Given up by their parents as babies they struggle to survive.  Miller is the eldest and works identifying magical artifacts.  A job which he’s quite good at and seems to enjoy.  Tay, the middle child tries to work and support the family but her temper usually gets in the way.  Tay is basically a very angry person.  Not without cause of course.  She and her brothers have been abandoned by their parents and left to live a life of hardship, even more so when the small stipend they have previously received to help them survive, is withdrawn without warning.  Ellstone is the youngest and loves to have his nose stuck in a book.  The three children are the narrators of the piece the other point of view coming from a young woman called Kisli who is training to become a soldier.

The world building is a little on the skimpy side although I liked that there were no info dumps.  We actually found out quite a lot of the history of the place through Ellstone’s love of reading which I really enjoyed.  Many years ago a war was fought between humans and Vumas (magic wielding beings who are quite similar to humans in many respects).  The humans (barely) won the war and since then have tried to prevent the use of magic.  Most Vumas live remote from humans but their constant persecution has led to a rebel uprising and a war is once again brewing.

In terms of the plot.  The children receive a rather cryptic and bloody message and as a result Tay and Ellstone find themselves on route to Eldermoon whilst their brother Miller remains behind.  From here the children are not only physically divided but also have conflicting ideas of what they hope to achieve.  Tay in particular is bent on revenge against her parents and feels that the Vumas will be the perfect way to exact such revenge.  What I actually really liked about the plot is that far from rushing into the cliche of the children becoming ‘the chosen ones’ who save the world the author takes a different route.  The children really play a small role in fact the ensuing war seems to take place around them, it isn’t the focus of the story and remains on the periphery.  The Vumas believe that the children will be their secret weapon and the humans also believe that they have a secret that will help them to once again defeat their enemy.

 

What I really enjoyed about this was that the author doesn’t go down the route of cliches, even though it felt like the story was screaming out to go down that path.  I thought there was some great emotion too.  Tay in particular, as I mentioned above, is very angry.  So angry in fact that really she’s the main catalyst in splitting the siblings apart and in fact her anger blinds her to almost all other considerations.  I also liked the way the story explores persecution and the idea that history is written by the winners and so might not always be a true representation.  These are really intriguing and thought provoking ideas that I thought were well integrated into the plot.  There’s also a childlike love of exploration going on here and an innocence or naivety displayed by all the POV characters that leads them to make mistakes – which in turn makes them feel much more credible.

In terms of criticisms.  This comes across as quite a young read and whilst I don’t mind that in some respects I readily admit I’m not the target audience.  A number of the characters just felt a little flat and in some places almost comic.  I really didn’t understand the parents or their motivations and was disappointed with the chapter where Tay finally meets her mother.  I could say more but I don’t want to let spoilers creep in.  The first 40/50% of the book is really quite slow and at first I had difficulty in separating any of the children’s voices as they all sounded somewhat similar.  This does resolve itself eventually and the pacing also picks up but there’s a lot to get through before these issues work themselves out.

Overall this was a good read and whilst it might not be one for me I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage others from reading.  I think it would work well aimed at a younger audience, particularly if it’s trimmed down a little to help the pacing issue.

My thanks to the author for a copy of The War of Undoing.

 

 

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Weekly Wrap Up : 07/01/18

This is my first weekly wrap up of the year.  If you celebrate Christmas I hope you had a lovely time and Happy New Year to all of you.

During the past week I’ve read only one book but I’m also part way through a couple of others.  I’ve posted a list of my favourite books of 2017.  I’ve also listed ten ‘must read‘ books from last year and also written a post about the next stage of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition.  So, not too much on the reading front but I’ve been catching up from a very lazy blogging month during December.

My last book of 2017 and first book of 2018 have worked out really well.  John Gwynne’s A Time of Dread was my last book of the year and it was fantastic.  My review will follow soon.  My first book this year was Tyrell Johnson’s debut The Wolves of Winter.  I hope the rest of my reads continue on such a good streak.  I’m also currently reading Anthony Ryan’s The Waking Fire as part of the Fantasy Hive’s reading club (check out the books for the rest of the year here), The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (as part of both Vintage Sci Fi and the Sci Fi Experience links to details can be found in this post).  These books are going to be chilled reads that I aim to complete by the end of the month.

Books read:

  1. Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

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Next Week’s Reads:

  1. The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (which I’ve already started and reads beautifully)
  2. The War of Undoing by Alex Perry (my first SPFBO book)

Upcoming reviews:

  1. Starborn by Lucy Hounsom
  2. Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace
  3. A Time of Dread by John Gwynne
  4. Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

#SPFBO Finalists: My first book

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Below is a round up of the ten finalists that have been put forward in this year’s SPFBO (Self Published Fantasy Blog Off).  A link with more information about the competition can be found here.

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I’m really looking forward to reading these and if previous years are anything to go by I would suggest you pick yourselves up copies too.

My first book, chosen randomly will be The War of Undoing.  This book was put forward by Pornokitsch and their review, which has certainly piqued my interest, is here – a little more about the book below:

The War of Undoing by Alex Perry 

warofundoing‘My name is Tay Raining, and this is my brother Ellstone. I wonder if you’ve heard of us … I have a birthmark shaped like a question mark on my hand, I think it might mean something but I’m not sure what. My brother is probably important too, though I can’t imagine how. I’m rambling now, sorry. The point is … the point is, we are the Rainings, and we’re here to save you.’

War is brewing in Kyland, as the shadowy, spell-weaving vumas rebel against the human government, but both sides have secret weapons at their disposal. The humans’ secret weapon: a plan that could be the undoing of the world. The vumas’ secret weapon: three young humans abandoned in the smog-shrouded town of Tarot – Tay, Ellstone and Miller Raining. The Rainings could be the key to winning the war, but first they’ll need to work out whose side they are really on…

The War of Undoing is the first book in the Kyland Falls fantasy series, and is Alex Perry’s debut novel.