Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley

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Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: A slow moving story, which works well on a gradual build thanks to the characters being so well drawn. Unfortunately, the ending is a bit of a letdown.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841494418

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Thus far, Brian Ruckley's Godless World trilogy has been a little slow moving, but drawn with wonderful characters that have helped the story along. Whilst this may work well for earlier parts of a trilogy, I feared that the slow pace of events may not work so well in leading up to the final confrontation that so many of these stories seem to lead to.

The Godless world is descending into a kind of insanity. All order is breaking down and members of both the True Bloods and the Black Road are fighting amongst themselves. There is rioting in the streets and the armies of both sides have taken to mindless slaughter rather than organised conquest. Under Aeglyss' command, the Black Road armies are strengthening and his power is increasing as his body weakens. His control of the Shadow Chancellor is a step towards ending the rule of the Thanes by murdering the greatest among them.

The only people who seem to be immune to the world's madness are Orisian and his group of bodyguards, who are taking K'rina, Aeglyss' foster mother to a place where he cannot reach her. Although not succumbing to the violent madness that many are, Orisian is haunted by ghosts from his past. His sister, held captive far from him is in more tangible danger, as she is being held in the palace of the Shadow Chancellor, who is now Aeglyss in all but body.

The incipient madness creeping through the minds of both sides helps blurs the lines between good and evil once more here, as in the earlier parts. This did cause a little confusion early in the book as I tried to remember which bloods were the True Bloods and which with the Black Road. All the way through the trilogy, Ruckley has blurred the line between the two sides which is a little confusing early on in the story.

Once you get to know the characters, or in my case, rediscover the characters this ceases to be as much of an issue. As with the earlier books of the trilogy, the individual characters are very well drawn and it's usually very obvious from their mannerisms which one you're following. This has been the great strength in Ruckley's writing and that certainly hasn't changed. What helps is that with the end approaching, there aren't quite so many plot strands to follow this time around, which means the breaks between following an individual character tend to be shorter and there is less opportunity to lose track of who some of them are.

One aspect that I don't recall spotting in the earlier parts of the story was that there are some stunning passages of writing here. I don't mean in terms of the story, which has always been very strong, but just some pieces of literature so good they momentarily stunned me. One section where a True Blood army is over-run thanks in part to Aeglyss' power, a character's death is described through his own eyes, which was a superb piece of writing. There were some very emotional pieces quite late on in the story which were also highly impressive, as unexpected as they were given much of what had gone before. In parts, it becomes obvious that Ruckley is not merely a gifted storyteller, but also a very talented writer.

A couple of aspects did take the edge off the story slightly for me. The whole trilogy has been very slow-paced and that continued here. Given that we are reaching the end of a trilogy, I was expecting events to move on a little quicker, but there was no increase in pace and even the conclusion was told at the same leisurely pace, which was a minor disappointment. I was also slightly disappointed with the ending, which was certainly different from the norm, but much lower key than expected. In a trilogy where good and evil were clashing and one side had to be defeated, the end here seemed quite weak almost as if the story ran out, rather than reached a conclusion.

That said, Fall of Thanes and indeed the whole Godless World trilogy are certainly worth reading. Once the characters have settled into their places in your mind and you've become accustomed to the slower pace of the story, the strength of the characters comes to the fore and that's where Ruckley's brilliance lies. This is a well written story acted out by wonderfully drawn characters and whilst aspects of it may not be perfect, it's a very good read for fans of the genre.

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

For more fantasy with well-drawn characters, I highly recommend Fiona McIntosh's Percheron series.

Buy Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley at Amazon.com.


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