Sunday, 2 February 2014

Wall of Spears by Duncan Lay

Wall of Spears by Duncan Lay is the final book in the Empire of Bones trilogy. You can read my reviews of the previous books in the series Bridge of Swords and Valley of Shields. This is the kind of BFF (big fat fantasy) series that definitely needs to be read in order, so if you haven't read the first two books, then I suggest skipping this review and clicking on one of the earlier reviews.
It is time to decide who will rule the lands and control the magic. Will it be Forland, with its lust for bloody conquest? Will it be Dokuzen, with its dreams of a slave empire, or will it be Vales, armed only with Rhiannon and her magic - and the truth about why the rulers of Dokuzen claim to be elves? Into this mix comes Sendatsu. Rejected by his true love, hated by his father, hunted by his former best friend, he now burns with the desire to build a better world for his children. Betrayal follows lies which follows more betrayal as the true power behind the vicious struggle is revealed. The fate of all the lands rests on a sword's edge ...
In this concluding volume, the conflicts set up in the first two books — between the mighty Forlish army and everyone else, between the "elves" and the humans, between the Velsh and the Forlish and elves — all come to a head. With Sumiko, the evil magic-weaver, gaining more and more power among the elves, tensions are running high. Obviously the fact that she's continuing to try to kill the main characters adds to the conflict.

The level of intrigue and machinations was probably my second favourite thing in Wall of Spears. Everyone has hidden (to most of the other characters) motivations and everyone is lying to everyone else about them (well, the Velsh less so). It makes for a complex read and no dull moments.

My least favourite thing wasn't really a writing quality thing at all, but a decision one of the characters made. I really can't say what it was because spoilers (you'll know if you've read it), but the reasons for their choice made me feel a little bit icky. On the other hand, it was a relatively minor point in the end and did not ruin my enjoyment of the book in any way.
I'm sure I've mentioned in my earlier reviews that Duncan Lay writes the most epically cinematic fight scenes. Wall of Spears is no exception. The battles are visceral and described in elaborate detail — down to the blood spatter and the stench — without falling into the trap of too much description slowing down the action. Lay makes it easy to picture every move his characters make. There was also an epically awesome chase scene at one point. Easily the best chase scene I've ever read, with the same cinematic detail imbued in the fight scenes (and my favourite thing about the book).

Ultimately, if you've read the earlier books in the series you probably already know whether you're going to read the third book. (Basically, if you liked the earlier books you definitely should.) If you haven't read the earlier books in the series but still read through this review for whatever reason, then you should go and start with book 1, Bridge of Swords, particularly if you have any interest in BFF.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: February 2014, Harper Voyager Australia
Series: Yes. Empire of Bones book 3 of 3
Format read: iBook
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

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