Chronicles of Fate and Choice: Tumultus by K S Turner

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Chronicles of Fate and Choice: Tumultus by K S Turner

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Amit Vyas
Reviewed by Amit Vyas
Summary: A sequel that is a more straightforward slice of pulp fiction than its predecessor. Serviceable enough, but lacking any real spark.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 512 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Ruby Blaze Publishing
ISBN: 978-0956224217

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This is the follow up to Before The Gods, a debut novel lauded for bringing a breath of fresh air to the world of speculative fiction and one of Bookbag's top picks of 2009. Tumultus is the second of the planned trilogy and I was looking forward to seeing how the author would really cut loose now that readers were already familiar with the Shaa-kutu and the story of their link to the origin of the human race.

Tumultus promises a darker tone, with a black cover and more foreboding cover art. The story opens on Earth where the human girl Tachra has become a spiritual guide working to promote understanding between human and kutu.The Shaa-kutu have overcome the rebel faction whose ambitions threatened the existence of the universe itself. These rebels were Shaa-kutu whose vision of balance and harmony had become corrupted by their desire to harvest the energy of the Old One. In the course of events the existence of the Shaa-kutu was discovered by their black winged Nigh-kutu cousins. Events soon take a turn for the worse as the Nigh-kutu arrive en masse in pursuit of conquest.

Not much was revealed in the first book about the shadowy Nigh-kutu, except that they were the equal and opposite in every way. Where the Shaa-kutu display a capacity for wisdom and grace beyond that of Earth's greatest saints, the Nigh-kutu would surely make humanity's worst dictators seem like kind old ladies in comparison.

One of the strengths of Before The Gods was that it was such a pleasure to take in the rarefied wisdom of the Shaa-kutu and feel privileged to simply see them being themselves. It is such a shame then that the Nigh-kutu are turn out as little more than a caricature of evil. What is more the evil is banal. There are very few Nigh-kutu characters. Most of the Nigh-kutu scenes focus on their commander Arrunn, who does little more than restate his desire for conquest and display cruelty to his subordinates. The effect comes off a little campy, like a Bond villain from the 1960's. The other Nigh-kutu turn out to be a mostly mindless race of warriors, with the exception of one or two of Arrunn's captains who are given their own backgrounds and are allowed some individuality. The Nigh-kutu largely exist to be the bad guys and the story became one dimensional as a result. The Shaa-kutu characters have different coloured auras representing their unique personalities; Orion the creative genius is a vibrant red and Chia is purple. The Nigh-kutu on the other hand are almost all black winged killing machines.

The two sides arrive and battle commences. The war doesn't raise the level of excitement much. Events do not quite immerse the reader or paint pictures of dynamic action scenes. Descriptions like 'kutu killing kutu' or 'kutu bodies were everywhere' make what should be exciting action set pieces feel like flat descriptions, as if the events were being reported in a newspaper. A key event like the invasion of the kutu homeworld is glossed over. Told but not shown. Whereas the first book brought nuance and suspense to the story Tumultus feels more pulpy, like reading early Michael Moorcock or watching Saturday morning cartoons where good battles evil.

The main problem is that the author struggles to let go and entrust the story to the reader. Any time anything of note happens, the reader is given Tachra's reaction to it. I lost count of the number of times that as an event was unfolding, Tachra reported that a chill ran through her. It was as though the author did not trust the specific development to elicit the desired response. Instead the correct response is spoon-fed. There is also too much explanation of Tachra's thought processes on a situation as it is occurring, sometimes more than once within the same scene. Thoughts that the reader should be more than capable of thinking themselves.The effect is pedantic and unconvincing. It felt as though the first person perspective put the handbrakes on the flow and Tachra became a character I became less and less enamoured with as the story progressed. I think the author has been let down by her editor, as the book is quite weighty but the scope of events would not justify the length. I hope that with a little reflection and a change of approach the third book in the series can again meet the benchmark set by the first.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

You can read more about K S Turner here. We also have a review of Time: The Immortal Divide (The Chronicles of Fate and Choice) by K S Turner.

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