The Fall (Thieves of Fate #2) by Tracy Townsend

FallThe Fall is the second Instalment in Tracy Townsend’s Thieves of Fate series in which we once again return to a fascinating world.

Please be aware that this review may contain spoilers for The Nine so please don’t read this if you haven’t read the first book yet – and also, I would suggest you read the first in series rather than diving straight into The Fall otherwise you’ll be missing out on a lot of world and character building.

In The Nine we literally discover a self writing book that documents the experiences of nine selected individuals as they go about their everyday existence.  They’re guinea pigs in a way, chosen seemingly randomly to allow God the chance to scrutinise their actions and behaviour.  This series focuses on three primary species – humans – (needs no explanation I think), Lanyani – trees of a sort, they can move about, communicate and more importantly think quite strategically and Aigamuxa – creatures that are large, strong and fast.  They also communicate and are able to think, their eyes are set in their heels – definitely an unusual development and they tend to resort to violence in the first resort.

The second book takes us about 8 or 9 months after the conclusion of No.1.  Rowena is working in the Alchemist’s apothecary, the alchemist is still recovering and Anslem is conspiring with the Alchemist to keep Rowena in the dark about things.  Everything is going swimmingly until they’re invited to a party, a party that sees them being hired for an unusual job that involves the trio travelling a long way to explore a library – ( I’ll repeat it for those who missed it first time – explore a library).  Meanwhile other things, plenty of other things, are afoot, conspiring is rife and everyone seems to be scheming – the self writing book has fallen into different hands that could endanger everyone and certain species are becoming allies most unexpectedly.

This is proving to be a series that has plenty going on and no shortage of thought provoking material.  It’s very clever, incredibly creative and well plotted with a great combination of science and theology.  There are plenty of characters and in fact there’s a much deeper exploration of motivations.  However, and I’m just going to get this out of the way early on, this does slow the pace somewhat, particularly in the first half of the book.  There’s a lot to take on board, plenty of POVs and plots just waiting to break out.  Basically, you need to pay close attention, everything is relevant here and so you need to carefully digest each chapter.  I realise that probably sounds a bit dramatic or perhaps even puzzling – like, ‘don’t you pay attention to every book you read?’ Obviously, yes, but some books just take more brain power than others is what I’m driving at. So, yes, a slow start that you need to be patient with – but well worth the effort.

The author really builds on the world in this instalment taking us exploring much further afield and spending time with different cultures and, given the way the story ends, I think that’s a trend that is set to continue.  I really liked this aspect of the story, we visit a Japanese inspired country with a love of clockwork invention and spend time getting to know the politics and set up which result in some interesting developments.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, as I mentioned, there is a slight slowing of pace initially which makes it feel like the plot is pending somehow, just waiting to really get started.  For me, there was something more holding me back and it took me a while to figure out what that was.  I think, to be honest, it boils down to the fact that Rowena, Anselm and the Bear have less page time.  Obviously, that was necessary in order to explore what was going on with the others in the story and to give readers a deeper insight but I felt the lack of their presence a little – even whilst I understand the necessity for it.

All that being said, the second half of the book really does come into its own with a burst of action and revelations and the ending has left me desperate to pick up the next book.  So, in spite of a few issues here and there this was still a very good read.  You do need to exercise patience but overall it’s a clever plot that’s well executed.

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

 

 

 

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Weekly Wrap Up : 9th June 2019

Again, I’ve missed a weekly wrap up and so I am combining two weeks in one post.  Actually I quite like doing a twofer so perhaps that’s what I’ll do in future – although I’m still torn because the weekly wrap up does keep me more focused and on track.  I’ll see – the jury’s still out.  Anyway, my reading has been very slow – in fact I had about four days of no reading whatsoever.  We’ve been travelling and also spending time with friends so reading has taken something of a backseat.  In fairness, slowing down my reading has meant I’m catching up on reviews – so it’s swings and roundabouts.  Hopefully my reading will be back to par next week.  So, what have I read since my last update:

My books:

  1. The Red Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear
  2. The Fall by Tracy Townsend (RTF)

Next scheduled reads:

  1. Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  2. Across the Void by SK Vaughn
  3. Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
  4. The Whisper Man by Alex North

Upcoming reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Council by Snorri Kristjansson
  3. Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
  4. The Fall by Tracy Townsend

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

The Nine (Thieves of Fate #1) by Tracy Townsend

the nineI enjoyed this book so much that I’m actually nervous to write a review – this is not a thing that happens often, not because my reviews are brilliant or simply flow from my brain into the written form with ease and flair, but because I really want people to read this book and this makes me worry in case I don’t do the book justice and you read this review and feel simply ambivalent or worse.  So, before I have a chance to mess this up – read this book.  It is that simple.  This will, without doubt make my end of year ‘best of list’.

I just loved this book.  I’m gushing on a little bit now but that’s because I have such high hopes for the rest of this series and frankly I’m excited – because finding a new series like this is always a thing of joy.  The imagination at work here is wonderful, I loved the world that the author has created and more than that I loved the characters.  It’s complex and intricate and yet brilliantly simple all in one.  Complex because of the characters and the roles they play, intricate because of the detail and attention that bring everything to life for the reader and simple in that the plot fundamentally revolves around a book.  It hooked me from the first few pages and then reeled me in until I was completely absorbed in this world.

As the story begins we make the introduction of Rowena Downshire, a young girl who works as a courier and is about to take on more work as one of the other couriers has gone missing.  Rowena works for a black marketeer called Ivor.  Nobody double crosses Ivor.  He’s a nasty piece of work all told and although he may provide a roof and a crust to those in his employ this is not benevolence but business.  Rowena finds herself on route to the Alchemist with an important delivery when she is attacked and robbed.  Her choices are simple, she can continue on to the Alchemist and seek help, although his reputation is little better, if not worse, than that of Ivor, or she can face her employer and a beating that she might never wake up from.  I don’t really want to give a lot away about the plot, there is murder and mystery, there’s the whole issue of ‘the book’, there are many threads being woven together in terms of the different parties in play here, there is adventure and recklessness, banter, bravery and, well, everything else that I want in a book and then some.

The world building.  Townsend has created this wonderfully dark world that feels seedy and grimy, it reminds me of some sort of mash up of Dickens and Lynch in it’s settings that take us through poorly lit slums, to debtors jail, to sumptuous masked balls and underground tunnels.  I loved the world created here.  It’s has a period feel in terms of the clothing and means of transportation, and then I can’t decide whether this is gaslamp, flintlock or steampunk – I’ll leave better brains than mine to figure that out although ultimately the definition matters not one whit – I’m sure you get the general feeling I’m going for and perhaps Ms Townsend defies definition.

The book is full of imagination and new ideas.  Firstly we have the religious/scientific aspect to the book.  To be clear, this is not a book about religion and isn’t trying to sell any ideas or preach to the reader.  The concept here revolves around ‘creation’ being an experiment, an experiment that is still in progress.  That’s all I’ll say about that side of the story.  In terms of the other species here we have the Lanyani and Aigamuxa.  What creations are these!  The Aigamuxa are quite terrifying – imagine jungle book in the style of Pan’s Labyrinth, well, that’s about the closest I can come to describing them.  Similarly the Lanyani – an equally fascinating creation that puts me in mind of a tree ent combined with all the endearing qualities of a triffid.   These two just blew my mind.  The thing here, these aren’t overly used or discussed and yet they feel fully formed and completely intriguing.

And, I’ve saved the best bit – although there are no bad bits – to the last.  The characters.  How I love these characters.  All of them, good and bad.  They all come together in the most perfect way to make this story a rollercoaster of emotions.  Rowena.  She’s a tough little cookie.  She may be small and skinny but don’t underestimate her.  Rowena has grown up on the mean streets of Corma, she is threaded through with steely determination and yet something in her undoubtedly brings out the better side in others – as it will do in you the reader.  I really cared for Rowena.  She’s fiercely loyal, stubborn and doesn’t always think things through but she’s an excellent character.  The Alchemist, also known as the Bear, is also a wonderful creation and one that I just loved.  One of those characters that’s all bristles and bark but really, underneath, there’s so much more to him.  Finally, Anselm.  Oh dear God what has happened to me – I loved his character too.  I’m undone.  It’s just that he plays his role so well.  And the three of them together.  What can I say.  Just read it and you’ll see what I mean.  There are of course other characters and to be honest they’re all well drawn – in particular I must give a shout out to Rare.

I have no criticisms.  I could probably dig around and try to conjure up something but I’m feeling on a book high and I don’t want to dampen the mood.

The only thing I would say about this book is that you need to fully immerse yourself.  This is a book that needs reading and digesting.  It’s not a difficult book to read at all but there are plenty of characters and a whole web of ideas – they of course all come together quite beautifully but in the meantime you have to gather all the threads and keep them in your mind, ready and waiting until they fulfil their course and spin a thing of beauty.

So, if you fancy a dark fantasy, packed with ideas, full of intrigue, populated with imaginative species and characters you can love, hate and fear then grab yourself a copy of this.  I can’t say enough good things about this book, although I’ve given it a good try.  Do yourself a favour and give it a shot.

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