The beginning of a new epic adventure, bringing together an explosive cast of characters, monsters and magic
Publisher: King Lot Publishing
Ebook: £1.99 Paperback: £12.99
This is a review for The Lost War: Eidyn Book One, by Justin Lee Anderson.
The Lost War begins in Haven, new capital of Eidyn. We are introduced to Aranok, envoy to the King and his bodyguard (and expert archer) Allandria, sent on an important mission by his friend and King, Janaeus. Within a short space of time, the cast of characters increases as their ensemble is built; a soldier, a naval captain, a White Thorn warrior, a priest and a blacksmith. Having as many characters as this interact with one another believably and with chemistry would be a test for many authors but it is a pleasure to follow these personalities on their journey as their characters are revealed and the dynamic between them evolves. I genuinely began to care for every single character and felt their triumphs and low points. Anderson does a great job of adding depth and intrigue so that you’re left thinking about the characters and their motivations after you’ve put down the book.
There’s so many series I want to read, that I tend to read the first book and put off reading the next ’til I’ve scratched a few more off the list. Ironically, I’m desperate to read book 2 of Eidyn. That has a massive part to do with the characters, but I want to explore the world further. In that respect, the Lost War is a traditional fantasy adventure; castles guarded by demons, mysterious monsters threatening the countryside, ‘blackened’ – humans turned into zombie like versions of themselves – a constant source of fear. There are inns and blacksmiths and walled cities, eery ancient ruins, even a city of the dead. This rich world is explored and travelled, upping the feeling of adventure and discovery. And you know there’s plenty more locations to discover in future books. For me, especially having ventured outside of my comfort zone over recent months and read a few books that stray from the traditional fantasy trope of quests and adventures, it gives you what I think a fantasy novel should; imagination, an escape to a vibrant new world.
No fantasy novel really reaches its full potential without some form of wizard substitute, and I’d say The Lost War fulfills this with its draoidhs, of which Aranok is one. Marginalised and feared by some sections of society, draoidhs take their power from their own energy and so must channel it efficiently. A very small percentage of people have this power, and their power varies. For example, some are earth draoidhs like Aranok, with a control of the earthly elements such as fire and air. Others have powers of illusion and light, with a number of other possible abilities that form an important part of the story.
I’m not a fan of exploring political themes in fantasy books in my reviews but I did want to touch on this: The Lost War has many feminist themes. And that’s certainly a good thing. Now I’m aware amongst some people that word is often misinterpreted and can bring negative connotations. There’s even a review on Amazon criticising this book for the power of its female characters. I wholeheartedly disagree with this. There is certainly a growing chunk of the market with ‘Mary Sue’ characters, teenage girls defeating armies and worlds ruled solely by women just because. And that’s fine. They can be really enjoyable but sometimes appeal to a limited audience. What The Lost War does well is what I feel is the real message behind feminism: equality and equal opportunities. The characters were so interesting and felt so natural in the story that I didn’t even think about gender roles as I read this book, I saw the characters for their abilities and personality, which I loved. There are a number of really powerful female characters, but they’re layered, they’re funny, interesting, flawed, fair and respectful to others. To me, too many books add a badass, cocky, merciless and overpowered female character(s) just to tick a girl power box but actually end up being disrespectful to the character by not developing them further. Samily, the white thorn warrior is possibly my favourite character in the book. And yes she’s a complete badass. But she’s likeable, she’s flawed and she’s human, most of all. I may be way off the mark here about what feminism should be, and I probably don’t have a right to decide, but I wanted to defend the author from the Amazon review I read and just point out how great the female characters are. I like the respect that Anderson has given to them and their character development.
I can’t review this book without mentioning that there is a big twist at the end, which was incredible. I think it was probably intentional that the reader should have a vague suspicion about one of the characters throughout the book but the way in which the twist is delivered, and the nature of it, I can’t imagine many will predict. And it’s a game changer, setting up the next book perfectly and answering many nagging questions you may have through the book.
A special mention also has to go to the gripping scene involving the creation of the relic, and the creepy epilogue.
I feel this book has a perfect blend of everything it sets out to do. Intriguing world building, well developed characters (including strong, brilliantly written women), imaginative locations, twists and turns, murders, weapons, demons and monsters, magic, friendship, loss. It covers all the bases you want it to in a fantasy novel. I give it a very strong 5 stars out of 5. It’s made me realise many of my past 5 star reviews before this blog probably shouldn’t have been given a 5 in comparison.
You’ll love it if: You want a traditional fantasy adventure with twists and turns , magic and monsters. If you like a story with a strong cast of several characters. If you like a cool magic system. If you want a fun but engaging read that will spark your imagination.
It may not be for you if: You prefer a first person narrative. If you like your fantasy to feature big battles rather than smaller skirmishes; the war isn’t really a big feature of the book as it’s pretty much finished in this installment. If you like the highest of high fantasy – elves, orcs etc. If you want to binge read a completed series – only book 1 is currently available.