Guest Review: FALL OF THE DAGGER by Glenda Larke (Orbit)

LarkeG-FL3-FallOfTheDaggerThe Forsaken Lands Concludes

Excommunicated cleric Saker returns from exile in the Spice Islands to find his homeland in chaos.

A dark sorcerer controls the ear of the King, turning him against his own son and heir, while a corrupted army gathers in the shadows.

With the illusionist Sorrel and islander Ardhi, armed with magic from Ardhi’s homeland, Saker now must stand between his city and the corruption that threatens to cripple it before it is too late…

Reviewed by Ryan Frye

The Forsaken Lands series has been my favorite fantasy series of the past year or so. The first two books of this series were so good that I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the final installment, The Fall of the Dagger. Easily my most anticipated book of 2016, I’m happy to say that Larke more than delivered the goods with this finale.

With the previous volumes of this epic fantasy trilogy, Larke crafted compelling and likeable characters; a twisty and complex plot that entertains, while also keeping the reader guessing; and a villain who seems far too powerful and cunning to overcome. When I finished the second book, I couldn’t help but feel that the heroes, and the innocent people who populate this world, were in truly dire straits with no chance to overcome. A situation that left me salivating for the finale like a dog staring at a full platter of bacon.

I found the Forsaken Lands Trilogy to be a very well-measured series. Larke manages to mix in a lot of fun and engaging elements (magic, religion, corruption, heroism, violence, love, and companionship to name a few), without going overboard, nor allowing any element to dominate or drown the story. This is something I really appreciated as a reader. While many fantasy authors can be a bit heavy-handed with some of these elements, this was certainly not the case here. Instead, I was able to fully immerse myself in the story and enjoy it on a number of levels.

I’ve praised Larke’s characters in my reviews of the previous Forsaken Lands novels, but it bears mentioning again that Larke writes characters and character development very well. By the end of the book, I felt like I was leaving behind friends whose lives I had grown close to and in whose fates I was certainly invested.

These days, when fantasy novels are incredibly thick and authors painstakingly describe every single detail of seemingly everything, it was refreshing to read a series that stuck to the point and kept the plot moving. There were times when I thought the plot might slow down, or meander off into side-plots with greater detail, but thankfully Larke didn’t submit readers to any unnecessary tangents. Larke keeps the focus firmly on the characters and the plot. She even had some less interesting elements take place “off stage”. As a reader who finds it all too easy to drop a series midway or after the opening volume, for the lack of things “happening”, I was very happy that Larke prioritized pacing and plot development.

Taken as a whole, the Forsaken Lands trilogy is very good. Easily the most fun and engaging series I’ve read in a handful of years. Larke delivers the goods on all fronts, and has written a series that deserves a widespread readership. There’s something here for fantasy fans of every ilk, while feeling fresh and new.

Highly recommended.

*

Glenda Larke‘s The Fall of the Dagger is published by Orbit Books on April 19th (US) and 21st (UK), 2016.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Lascar’s DaggerThe Dagger’s Path and The Last Stormlord & Stormlord Rising

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