Someone wants to kill Mari, a young Steam Mechanic in the Guild that controls all technology. She has learned that her world of Dematr is headed for a catastrophe that will destroy civilization, and that Mages really can alter reality for short periods. Someone also wants to kill Alain, a young Mage who has learned that Mechanics are not frauds as his Guild teaches, and that Mechanic Mari is the only person who can prevent the oncoming disaster.
Narrowly escaping death, the Mechanic and the Mage stay alive thanks to their combined skills, an alliance never before seen. But it becomes clear that both of their Guilds, the most powerful forces in the world, are trying to destroy them. Other powers, like the great Empire and a mysterious secret Order, also seek to kill or capture them, using every weapon from Imperial Legions to Mage-created trolls, dragons, and rocs.
Trying to survive and learn the truth about their world so they will know how to save it, Mari and Alain realize that the answers they seek may lie in the dead city of Marandur. But Marandur is guarded by the legions that have sealed it off from the rest of the world for more than a century. Mari and Alain's only hope may rest with the unseen Masters of Marandur.
This is the second book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!
Mari is a fantastic character and I liked her from the moment she was introduced. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. She is an eighteen year-old Master Mechanic. She has attained it by qualifying as the youngest Lady Master Mechanic since the Guild was first formed several centuries earlier.
Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot. He is seventeen years-old and one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status. He has been taught from a young age not to show or feel any emotions and that the world he lives in is an illusion, where nothing is real.
I listened to this story in audio format, rather than read it. The story is once again narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He does a fantastic job in bringing the story to life. Even Alain, who's voice is meant to be flat and emotionless comes across with subtle hints. You would think that Alain's voice would be monotonous, but it's not so. I love the way he brings all the characters to life with different accents, inflections and tones. He even makes the women's voices sound perfect for each character. As for his narration, he read the story clearly and concisely, and his pacing was perfect. I would definitely listen to more books read by this narrator.
This story picks up a few months after the events in Dorcastle (see Book One: The Dragons of Dorcastle). Alain has been sent by his guild on a contract to protect some common soldiers who are travelling to war. Along the way, they are attacked.The foresight Alain has developed has shown him that a storm is coming, though he has no idea what his vision means, so wishes to seek answers. Meanwhile, Mari has been sent to Tay (sorry, unsure of spelling due to only hearing it spoken and not reading the book), a region that has fallen into anarchy, by her guild. Unwilling to be a sacrificial lamb, Mari goes in search of Mage Alain. Together once more, they face several challenges and dangers. However, one of their leads takes them to Marandur, a city declared dead by the emperor one hundred and fifty years previously, where they make a startling discovery. Will they survive only to stumble at the final hurdle?
This story introduces us to the world of Dematr. It is a mass of contradictions. There are two great Guilds who hold all the power over the common folk - The Mechanics and The Mages. These Guilds have held power for centuries and refuse to relinquish their hold and reject change of any kind. However, this is slowly strangling the world, making it harder and harder for the Mechanics, especially as their technology is regressing. This story has a steampunk feel to it, with machinery being steam driven at times - trains for instance. Though there are some more modern items such as far-talkers (walkie-talkies to you and me), torches using batteries, and rifles and pistols that are decidedly more modern-day. Mages use energy from the land around them and some of their own energy to make spells. These spells can be used in various ways - from hiding oneself to creating a dragon.
This book is told through the eyes of both Mari and Alain and I found myself completely hooked from beginning to end. I loved meeting the two main protagonists once more, and watching (in my minds eye) the story unfold as I listened. The story is full of action, adventure, and danger and I found myself an emotional wreck at times. Have you ever read or listened to a story and felt completely emersed in it? This happened to me whilst listening to this book. These characters have come to life for me and have become my friends. I found myself missing them when the story finished, so I began listening to it again. I've listened to this book now at least four times. Each time I listen to it, the story and characters sweep me up and carry me away to a world that is alien and yet familiar at the same time, and makes me want to go and visit it. This book ends with a slight cliffhanger and the audio version has a preview of the next book in the series, which I am now looking forward to reading/listening to. I will be listening to The Assassins of Altis as soon as I can.
Jack Campbell is a new author to me. I've never read or listened to any of his other books. However, I may have to add him to my favourite authors list, as he's found a fan in me. I love his writing style, which is fast paced and descriptive, and the flow of the story is good too.
Although there is no mention of any scenes of a sexual nature, I do not, however, recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 15 due to some violence. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love dark or epic fantasy, steampunk or action/adventure and supernatural/paranormal romance genres. - Lynn Worton