Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ascent of the Unwanted by Nathan Boyce

Her family murdered.  Her unborn child ripped away from her.  And she herself was abducted, raped, and sold as a slave into prostitution.  Is any woman strong enough to overcome such unrelenting injustices?  Miranda will show that a strong woman can do to those that have wronged her.  At the same time, a stable boy seeks the tools to avenge his mother's brutal murder.  Joining the Cavaliers seemed like the only place Erik would get the training he needed, but if he failed he would either be indentured as a servant or killed.  Title and power determine what is legal and right, those deemed beneath society have little recourse.  together these two, along with their friends, begin their quest for vengeance.  The Ascent of the Unwanted is a harsh glimpse into the bowels of cruelty, and how a small group of people come to rise about their station.

Let's get the negative out of the way first.  Even though Boyce has a strong story-telling presence, we have some time issues here.  It's kind of like being on a sight-seeing tour where we spend six hours perusing a park and then we spend five minutes perusing the next park, followed by an hour at the next park.  Assuming all of the parks are the same size and have the same amount to see, this causes a bit of a flow issue.  In the long run, this might actually be pretty important.  Since this is the first book in the series, some of the information that we digested my become critically important later.  Right now though, I felt like I was being detained at one park and rushed through another.  I'm hoping that this is done on purpose so that later everything will balance out.  We'll keep you updated as we get our hands on the rest of the series.  Stop whatever you're doing right now, Nathan, and go write for us ;)

There's so much to discuss here, but I want to start with the Roh'Darharim.  It's a secret society of protectors.  They have unusual and harsh rules, but I found that captivating.  I don't like horses.  I don't make a secret of that.  However, the way that Boyce portrays the Darharim as well as their link and relationship with horses was interesting and adventurous rather than the usual 'I don't care' that I would normally feel.  The Darharim are an intricate society and I think he did a great job of creating them and beginning the sorting process on paper.  As readers, we get an idea of what they're about, but I'm sure there's still a lot we haven't figured out.

The story actually centers around five main characters.  Some of them we don't realize are main characters until near the end of the book.  Boyce does a great job of making them realistic and flawed while at the same time extending them each a hero quality.  We take turns following them through their own personal story until the time where they 'temporarily' come together as a group.  Don't worry...that's not a spoiler.  Each one has an ugly and cruel life with serious obstacles to overcome.  It's easy to get lost in each person's life.  I think the spacing in this area was about perfect.  Since we switch back and forth, sometimes authors tend to get lost in one character and then forget the others exist.  We have a long time with one character and then a short time with the next.  Instead of that, what I found was that I was happily reading along and lost in one person's story, and at the point that I was beginning to wonder about someone else, that's when the chapter ended and the next person picked up.

If you enjoy dark fantasy, this is one that you'll want to check out.  There's extensive world building without hours of boring detail.  We have finely tuned characters as well as social structures.  Most of the story-telling is brisk and keeps you on edge.  At the end of the book, you're anxious to get the second in hand.  (I've been informed that it's nearly finished!)  I think this is going to end up to be an amazing dark fantasy adventure along the lines of Falconer's Legacy of Skur.  Most of the first book seems to be setting the stage for what is to come.  Don't get me wrong, it's not boring scene-setting.  It's fascinating and fulfilling and I can't wait to get more.

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