"The world feels oddly strained, like a line pulled too taunt and apt to snap, smashing everything in its path."
Master Mechanic Mari and Mage Alain have survived every attempt to stop them, but their enemies are determined to kill Mari, the only one who can save her world from a storm of destruction. As armies begin to gather and cities seethe with tension, Mari, Alain, and their friends must prepare to confront the storm in the place it first appeared: the broken kingdom of Tiae.
The dangers facing them demand perilous raids, tough battles, and more than a little piracy. Beating the Mechanics Guild and the Mage Guild that have controlled the world of Dematr for centuries will require an unprecedented alliance under Mari's command of rebellious Mechanics, Mages, and common folk who know that together they can change the world, but separately they will all lose.
This story is the fourth book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!
Mari is a fantastic character. I liked her immediately when I met her in the first book. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. A Master Mechanic, Mari has faced many threats to her life from the Guild Masters on the world of Dematr and survived. Mari has been foreseen by Mages to be 'The Daughter of Jules' and fated to free the world of Dematr from the tyranny of both the Guilds - Mechanics and Mages - and to unite the Mechanics, Mages and Commons against said Guilds. This time, she finds herself on a dangerous mission on the sea in an attempt to reach the broken kingdom of Tay and walking in the footsteps of the legendary Jules of Pacta Servanda. Together with her friends, and Alain, she will have to dig deep to survive the oncoming storm.
Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot from the start. He was one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status at the age of seventeen. 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 love how this character has grown as the series has progressed. He tries to show more emotion, even though his Guild had virtually beaten it out of him. He hides a dry wit under that emotionless mask.
I listened to this story in audio format, rather than read it. MacLeod Andrews once again narrates the story. He does a fantastic job of 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, inflexions 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.
The story continues from the end of The Assassins of Altis and sees Mari and Alain joining with several new characters as the action heats up. Mechanic Caylou (not sure of spelling as I listened to the story so have no reference and have spelt it phonetically - it could be Kayloo or another variation) makes another appearance. He is one of Mari's friends from the Mechanics Guild, along with his girlfriend, Ally, who also makes an appearance this time. Mage Asha also makes another appearance, but there are also several other new characters that are now integral to the plot. There is Mage Dov, who is Asha's uncle, and Mechanic Dov (no relation) whose relative had once lived in Marandur. Sien, a princess of Tay, plays a significant role in this story, too. There are a few more characters added, but it would take me too long to mention them all.
I love the world building in this series. It is familiar though strange at the same time. It has a mix of steampunk and modern day technology, but this is due to the way the Guilds restricted people from creating new things. The story is full of action, adventure, and danger and I found myself an emotional wreck at times. In this story, the characters travel to the Sea of Backer, where pirates, traders and Imperials rule the waves and danger threatens on all fronts. The action is ramping up as the storyline reaches towards the climax. Have you ever read or listened to a story and felt utterly emersed in it? It happened to me as I listened to this book. These characters have come to life for me and have become my friends. This book ends with a slight cliffhanger, which had me eager to listen to the next story in the series, The Servants of the Storm, as soon as possible.
Jack Campbell has written a fantastic science fiction series. I have added him to my favourite author's 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 now some mention of scenes of a sexual nature, it’s not shown. 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
***Possible spoilers you’ve been warned***
This series is so consistent and does not disappoint. So we covered the city, we covered the sea in the second book. Now it’s time to go into the deep jungles and go on an exciting adventure that involves natives, flying ships, an Egyptian temple placed in Australia (I know right?), which results in an Indiana Jones type of adventure but involves secret agents, spies, and horrible clockwork falcons that can kill.
You can’t get more exciting than this. It starts off at a good pace and it’s steady. I enjoyed how during the ‘down times’ there is focus on Modo and Octavia’s character development. Modo still has some childish characteristics in him but as the novel progresses he slowly gets over that and the change stands out. You really do feel for him as his appearance starts to affect him, especially with his relationship with Octavia. His encounter with the natives help him to be comfortable in his own skin and I think because of this he starts acting more headstrong and does the talk back to Mr Socrates (which was a great scene to read. Wowwweee Modo, you do that clap back because Mr Socrates sure can’t take it haha)
I felt for Modo when he reveals his true likeness to Octavia. I get where she’s coming from though. She had this mental picture of Modo and it was nothing like the real thing so of course she wouldn’t know how to react. It hurt to read though. I couldn’t even imagine how crush Modo would have felt considering how much he feels for Octavia.
The plot in itself was super good and filled with action during the last half of the novel. The bad guys run with their tail between their legs in this one (enjoyable to read no doubt) but they come back with a vengeance towards the end. I rather expected the temple to be a little more of a challenge to go through (more traps please) but then perhaps that would prolong the adventure just a little too much.
I’m wanting to know what’s going to happen between Modo and Mr Socrates considering they had a falling out in the novel. This is going to get good and I hope the fourth and final novel will close this on a good note. Greatly recommend this series so far, pick it up and enjoy! It’s a great adventure!
This is classic Steampunk genre with a morality tale or two, writ large. The young teenaged, Beatrix, escapes a suitably Dickensian circus to travel the world on a multi-story dirigible, a craft common to so much of the genre.
The adventure, the search for the long-hidden artefact, is entertaining, even though the elements that build the story are somewhat contrived and sometimes less than well knitted together. However, the words themselves are nicely knotted and well cast-off. A ‘Victorian’ tone is achieved and displayed well enough, onto which is painted vivid pictures of both the cast of characters and the world in which they are played. Comedy is a consisted chord, tongue-in-cheek rather than riotously funny. The Colonel is all comic foil, a wild mix of Phileas Fogg, MacDonald Frazer’s Flashman, and Captain Pugwash. It is his eccentricity rather than any string of logic that binds the book.
I am mystified as to what age group the author was aiming at, if any, but certainly its general tone leans most heavily towards the age of its heroine, the young teenager, Beatrix. However, I must point out that even in my seventh decade, I was well entertained. Adventure books, especially ones like this, of a Disneyesk nature, tend to be of liked or loathed flavours throughout a life rather than attractive in a certain decade.
Death is treated with a certain flippancy, being generally confined to the less nice people. A great deal is sexually implied, though the subject detail is suitably distant. That the Colonel is of a particularly libertine, rakish, nature is obvious from early in the book. We must worry at first about the abused young lady coming into the Colonel’s household, and later about the character of one of the darker characters. We are though, kept aloft in lighter airs, in the comical balloon.
My overall feeling was one more of reading the detailed story behind a cartoon strip than a book with any profound depth. I found myself to be seized in a picture world that blended Herge’s Tin Tin and Moore’s Extraordinary Gentlemen. Certainly, the vivid scenes that the prose brings to my mind is the real strength of the book, a world of solid characters that somehow never quite distil from their comic cartoon into the world we live in.
This was a good solid mystery set in a fantasy historical setting with a slightly steampunkish vibe. Julian Lynes is a private investigator and Ned Mathey is a metaphysician (kind of like a wizard, only magic in this world can be learned by anyone with the inclination). They're old school chums - and occasionally something more - who are called in to work a case by another old schoolmate.
There are plenty of suspects and twists in the case, and while I suspected the perp early on, I couldn't figure out the how and why of it until much later. There were also plenty of other possible motivations for the other suspects, so this wasn't one of those mysteries where the perp was so obvious that it made the MCs look like idiots for not figuring it out earlier. They had to follow the clues and eliminate suspects.
What I liked even more than the mystery was how the author weaved in flashbacks to their school days and their bullying at the hands of the prefects to show why Julian and Ned bonded so early on. This is an author who knows how to show and not just tell. The pain of those years are still there, and it adds an extra layer of complication to the case as they have to face on of their former bullies.
This wasn't at all what I was expecting from this book, but that made it that much more fulfilling to read. I do wish the world-building were a little less subtle, since I felt things that made up this world could have been explained or described better, but the social aspects of the world are closer to our own in that time period.