*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: “So often it’s the forgotten who possess the power to change the world.”
When an attempt is made on the life of Ashara, Keeper of Yurr, his young, hapless advisor Edvar must uncover and stop those behind it. With enemies in the capital city and the belligerent Tesh, Keeper of neighbouring kingdom Karrabar stirring trouble in the Borderlands, can Edvar hold together Ashara’s brittle reign?
The troubles ripple throughout Yurr, affecting an ancient race of people known as the Amast, who in their time of utmost need, turn to pariah Isy for salvation. Rejected by society, kith and kin, can Isy guide the Amast to safety during the greatest turmoil Yurr has known since the War of the Damned?
An epic underdog’s story, Pariah’s Lament delivers action, adventure, romance and original fantasy. Fans of Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin will appreciate the gritty realism and vivid battle scenes of Pariah’s Lament, yet at times it possesses a humorous touch akin to the works of James Barclay and Nicholas Eames.
And for those who adore the charismatic characters of Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss, you’ll find a cast that will whisk you away on a journey of discovery, intrigue, friendship and love.
Pariah’s Lament is an epic fantasy novel, set in the shared Of Metal and Magic universe.
The two main characters, Isy and Edvar, are both isolated from those around them – Isy by a facial birthmark that her fellow villagers view as a curse, and Edvar by his reputation for intelligence and his role as right hand to the Keeper. Both have to step out of their (dis)comfort zones and fight for what matters most to them. But first, they have to work out what that might be.
The plot blends politics, romance and battles in strands that feel familiar to fans of this genre, but the worldbuilding really stands out, with the Amast, the Keepers, and the backstory of the magical daggers that must be contained to avoid further separation of the world’s races. I found the temptation and rejection of the power of the daggers was a fascinating and compelling backbone to the story, and really enjoyed the way it was woven through the plot without ever overshadowing the more personal struggles that form the heart of the story.
I found the main characters a little harder to engage with. Isy is a little bit too good to be true; she never really falters, always doing the right thing, always likable, above reproach. Edvar, in contrast, is introduced as being the Keeper’s super-intelligent advisor, but what we mostly see from him is self-doubt and self-abasement. He spends much of the story berating himself for everything he does, doesn’t and can’t do, and little time actually dispensing the sage advice he is famed for. The side characters were far more interesting to me – Vil, the Amast, Ashara – as they had a more realistic blend of flaws and virtues that made them less predictable.
The story’s ending ties up the immediate plot neatly, but still leaves the bigger picture (especially the concept of those dangerous daggers) open to further exploration. Personally, I would love to see a prequel that delves into the ‘corruption’ of the races by the daggers and their original containment.
This is a good introduction to the OMAM world, and a solid addition to the epic fantasy genre. I look forward to seeing more from both Richie Billings and the OMAM wider world in future.
Why is that bastard always right? Edvar thought, cursing his informant, Mag. Soldiers emerged from doors, pulling on armor, buckling belts and baldrics. Officers yelled orders and led men and women up the motte. How did they reach him? Poison seemed most likely. Always poison. Edvar had practically interrogated those working in the kitchen and stores to ensure they could be trusted. Guards were stationed day and night at the well and outside the wine cellar, and teams checked the food that came into the keep. Had someone betrayed him? Had he missed something? He must have. I’m as useless as a fingerless archer.– Richie Billing, Pariah’s Lament