Book Review – Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga #1) by Steven Kelliher
*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*
The book blurb;
‘For hundreds of years, the flame-wielding Embers have been the last line of defense against the nightmare creatures from the World Apart, but the attacks are getting worse. Kole Reyna guards Last Lake from the terrors of the night, but he fears for his people’s future.
When Kole is wounded by a demon unlike any they have seen before, the Emberfolk believe it is a sign of an ancient enemy returned, a powerful Sage known as the Eastern Dark.
Kole has never trusted in prophecy, but with his people hanging on the precipice, he reluctantly agrees to lead the Valley’s greatest warriors in a last desperate bid for survival. Together, they will risk everything in search of a former ally long-thought dead, and whether Kole trusts him or not, he may be the only one capable of saving them.’
Well let me just say that I enjoyed the hell out of this book! it contains all of your favourite fantasy elements, world-building…check (the ‘Valley’ is great), a trope of colourful characters…check, higher powers…check. Oh, and kickass action that puts you on the edge of your seat…youbetcha!
The ‘enemy’ within this novel are the ‘Dark Kind’, creatures of immense power and are horrifying and grotesque, and attack the ember-folk during the ‘Dark Months’. This provides the context for the story as we see our band of characters exploring to find the source of these ever-increasing attacks.
My favourite thing about this book was the magical elements. They were used throughout the book and actually added something to the story line, it wasn’t in the background and there for the sake of it; this was something I found refreshing, as all too often, the magic is forgotten in other stories.
Another major plus, for me, was the different characters and the way that their stories were told. You invested in the characters you were seeing, and reading and this raises the stakes consistently throughout the story. Each character has their own unique goals, achievements and experiences, and these were explored very well by the author.
The action in VoE is a real standout for me, it’s fast, it’s chaotic, and it’s hard! In my stories i don’t want any pulled punches or feigned pain, I want to be up close and personal, and i want ti to confuse me. VoE did just that! The frenetic pace of the action may be off-putting for some but it was just what I wanted, i want not just to read the action, but to be a part of it.
There were one or two downsides; some of the spelling/grammar in the copy that I received was a little ‘off’, maybe a more thorough edit could have been done. Now this doesn’t retract from the story itself but was a little bit of a niggle for me. The other ‘downside’ for me was the beginning; it seemed too exploratory. Now I know that, as a first novel, the author needs to build the world and introduce the characters, but I think it could have been done on a smaller scale. Again, this didn’t have a real effect on my overall experience of VoE.
I really enjoyed this book and I think you will too. With it being a debut novel, there are some clunky elements and some parts that could have been ‘cleaner’ but nevertheless it is very impressive. Frantic and frequent action, characters that are credible and worth investing in, and a world that has a great deal to offer.
4/5 from me!
Where to find ‘Valley of Embers’…