Book Review: When the Heavens Fall

When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner, The Chronicles of the Exile #1


If you pick a fight with Shroud, the Lord of the Dead, you had better make sure you end up on the winning side, else death will mark only the beginning of your suffering.

A book that gives its wielder power over the dead has been stolen from a fellowship of mages that has kept the powerful relic dormant for centuries. The thief, a crafty, power-hungry necromancer, intends to use the Book of Lost Souls to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld. Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artifact at all cost.

However, the god is not the only one interested in the Book, and a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed. Among them is a reluctant Guardian who is commissioned by the Emperor to find the stolen Book, a troubled prince who battles enemies both personal and political, and a young girl of great power, whose past uniquely prepares her for an encounter with Shroud. The greatest threat to each of their quests lies not in the horror of an undead army but in the risk of betrayal from those closest to them. Each of their decisions comes at a personal cost and will not only affect them, but also determine the fate of their entire empire.


When the Heaven Fall was a book that I had high on to read list this year. To begin look at that cover! The story reminded me very closely to the Epic Fantasy book that I read when I began reading. Those early books of Tad Williams, Robin Hobb and Robert Jordan. Meaning to say that the Epic Fantasy that we read now, that of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Brandon Sanderson is different in terms of style. Marc Turner's debut, When the Heavens Fall return to the classic roots of Epic Fantasy in a stunning way. 

The story of When the Heavens Fall is told from multiple perspectives. But first the main quest in the story is the search for a stolen book, but not just a book, the Book of Lost Souls has been stolen by a rogue necromancer known as Mayot Mencada. This book, that was once safely put away by the Lord of Death, Shroud, hold tremendous powers. Powers to resurrect those that were once assumed dead. Shroud hadn't anticipated this action and must now spring into action to defend his position, otherwise he will be most likely overrun... Now we get introduced to the different perspectives in the book. The first is that of Luker, a Guardian from a sacred order hunts the book indirectly, meaning he isn't necessarly after the book but also looking for a person who was searching for Mayot and has gone missing. Secondly there is Ebon, prince and heir to the throne of Galitia. Ebon lives in the Forest of Sighs and is deeply troubled by demons of his own that he has to conquer if he wishes to stay insane. Thirdly there is Romany, a priestess to The Spider. It becomes directly noticable that Romany is a pawn by her goddess The Spider but as somethings happen it can only take so long... Last but not least there is Parolla, a necromancer who has dealings with Shroud herself, things of the past need to be resolved.

As I already mentioned Marc Turner writes a classic Epic Fantasy story the pacing is nice and gentle at first but I do have to say that the changing in perspective was done rather fast and without letting you catch your breath. In the build of a story it is important for me to make it understandable, especially when the focus is on multiple perspectives if is a need to be honest. Luckily as the plot starts to unfold, the time spend with each character becomes more stable and I got to feel more and more for the characters. The writing style and the plot line are both highly addictive, the book is easy to get into and due to the highly eventful scenes you will thinking about what will happen next when you take a break from reading. 

The characterization of the four characters was done in good and clear way. Each character had something working for them in their advantage, the characters were diverse and different. Though some might be considered to fall in the stereotype premise of the story. Most of them really stood out of the story. Luker for me was highly enjoyable to read though he is perhaps the most stereotype of them all, I just like those kind of characters. For me an under appreciated character was Romany, I liked her promise a lot with the Spider and seeing how she ventured in the normal and supernatural realm. Marc Turner has put down a nice foundation for the characters that I hope to see be build into much more in the subsequent books. 

Now what made for me the most impact in When the Heavens Fall was the world building. This is definitely something that is hot topic in the recent Epic Fantasy stories. That of Gods and other deities walking the path of humans. This for me sparks my imagination a 100fold. It is so cool for me to think about just what will happen next, there are certainly some very powerful players in this story. I think Marc Turner put the magic on purpose to the background to create an alluring and teasing sense to the story, and of course to create a certain air of deadliness. All in all a wonderful atmosphere!

Marc Turner's debut When the Heavens Fall is a refreshing story in the current fast paced Epic Fantasy book. This return to the classical roots of where it all began marks this book as special in my eyes. From the idea's of the story down to execution, Marc Turner delivers a enjoyable story, there are some minor squibbles here and there but don't pin the book down to hard on it. I enjoyed reading this book, it's chockful of action, nice and dirty plot twists in the end that will make you read it twice and thrice of and thinking did I really just read that? There is a deadly game being played... lets see how it unfolds in the second book! 
 

Comments

  1. Well said. It was that "return to the classic roots of Epic Fantasy" that first hooked me. It just felt like a doorstopper tome I *should* have read 20 years ago. Turner did magic and supernatural so well here, I was completely willing to overlook the weakness of a few characters. Fun stuff, and I'm looking forward to more.

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  2. Yes I agree Bob, every book has a flaw somewhere if the promise and delivery are great just enjoy it!

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