Sunday, June 1, 2014

New Book Review - The Blasted Lands

Book - The Blasted Lands
Writer - James A. Moore
Series - Seven Forges #2 
Published By - Angry Robots

First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley and Angry Robots for this opportunity.
Lets be honest, I love jumping in the middle of a series (as I did with many series' such as GoT, Harry Potter etc.). I like to delve into a story already in flow, and that fact might have influenced me a bit of my liking this book, although the guest post by James A. Moore did help. But the two warring (or soon to be warring) factions were depicted very nicely in this novel through the eyes of many characters varying from the generals and rulers of each sides to very minor foot soldiers and even people relatively outside the conflict. The world building was nice and the revealing of a ancient past slowly while building up for a war was quite interesting.

'The Blasted Lands' tells the story of the start or the build up/preparations to a war. There are two factions one a massive Empire of twelve kingdoms which is the largest in the world and other is a religiously fanatic people (Sa,ba Taalor) with their seven war gods who live in the very harsh environments of the blasted lands. The setting is interesting, many ideas are new and the author tells the story in such a way that it is really hard to choose any sides in the upcoming battle. While The Sa'ba Taalor may seem very violent and fanatically religious at first, we get to learn their culture and way of life slowly and get to know why they are like this and it is so easy to sympathize with their cause. On the other hand the vast number of people of the Empire and their quite humane leaders who have their motives of saving their people are east to relate to also. 

While its true that not much happens as a whole in the book, specially compared to what I can tell did happen in the first from the information in the book, but the author does build up very nicely for the next book/books in the series. It also has quite an innovative magic system and original creatures of the blasted lands which really keeps the reader curious for more information regarding them. The different cultures from other parts of the empire also gets a bit of mention along with the religious deities of the Empire itself, but once again the author keeps the mystery ever present. Each chapter has many viewpoints ranging from a few lines or paragraphs to some pages in length, while it was a bit confusing early on as I did not read the first book after I get to know the characters this was one of the things I really enjoyed. This sense of constant change and of being dropped in between a war reminded me of 'Gardens of The Moon' which is a novel I enjoyed quite a lot.

The characters are as I mentioned quite varied. the different perspectives really adds that much more to the burden of choosing sides. Through out the novel I kept asking myself who would win in the end & who do I want to win? The ending is kind of a cliffhanger which really keeps the reader wanting the next book that much more which is another plus point in my book.

One of the issues with the book is the subtle hints of needless dragging, as at times, specially toward the end it seems the author is deliberately making the story even slower and trying to keep some things from the reader for telling in the future novels. This just reminded me of 'Feast of Crows' which made me somewhat mad. On a whole, I did enjoy the book a lot, specially the prose style, world building and characters & would most definitely check out the next book/books in the series.

Overall score, 4 out of 5 stars.

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