I received BoW as an ARC and was asked to do a review of it! R. Malak was previously featured on the Infinity Flower Publishing blog. Read his post here.
“The Beginning” is a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and survival. Devastated by war with unknown creatures, Talmen a roamer searches for his long lost brother in the hopes of re-uniting his broken family. Cora a resourceful ranger trained in both stealth and marksmanship heads out with her new squadron to eliminate a threat posed to her home by an Orc WarHorde. Togran Ka leader of the WarHorde finds himself embroiled in ancient rivalries and blood feuds. His attempts to adapt to human weaponry, causes much hate amongst the believers of Sezrath. Lucy and Rollo siblings abandoned by their parents, make their living selling items they have scavenged and repaired to any surviving human settlements. Opposite sides of the same coin, Rollo is a cheerful boy with the glow of innocence still about him and Lucy an overprotective cynical woman, who fears for the future. The Mother a creature of pure malevolence and vileness seeks to cleanse the world.
Wow! What an adventure! When I started reading Breath of War, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. From the very beginning, R. Malak had me hooked with Talmen’s struggle just to survive the day. There was so much action, with battles that left me feeling like I was the one being chased by monsters. Malak also includes an awesome insight into the society and minds of the monsters, to the point that I almost felt sorry for them. Almost. The twist at the end really threw me for a loop and left me with one burning question: When is the next book coming out?? If you love dystopian futures mixed with fantasy monsters and epic battles for the survival of the human race, then this book is for you! And remember, this is just The Beginning.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s not your normal, run-of-the-mill fantasy, even though it features orcs, goblins, and other bad little monsters with teeth and a craving for human flesh. I was surprised initially by the amount of detail that Malak puts into the battle scenes (and they make up probably 90% of the book!), but I think that’s what makes this story so compelling. These people are not just living in a changed world, they’re fighting every moment to stay alive and try to adjust to the beasts that have taken over. I really liked that it gave this book a dystopian feel, while still maintaining the fantasy.
The orcs and their society were really interesting to me. The way Malak writes them, we see that they aren’t just mindless beasts; they have wants and desires and they have to maintain status or risk being turned on by their brethren. It lends an empathy to these creatures that is otherwise lost in most fantasy. It’s nice to see that the bad guys have brains and aren’t just slobbering death-machines.
The ending really threw me for a loop, but I won’t spoil it here by talking about it! 🙂 There’s a massive plan beginning to unravel, involving all the races, and, like I said in my review, this is just The Beginning!
Overall, I give R. Malak a solid 4-star rating.