The Fifth Empire of Man is the second and the final book in the Best Laid Plans duoIogy and it’s even a greater installment in comparison to the first one. I enjoyed the first book but I have some reservations about it, this sequel kicked almost all of them off the ship.
The most significant differences between the first book and this one are its pacing. The first book was good but I never had a hard time putting the book down any time I want, even during the actions sequences I could put it down if I have some errands to do. This book though? It’s like the author abducted you into his ship called The Fifth Empire of Man and you simply have no way out until you reach your destination. This isn’t a book or series that’s groundbreaking for the genre, but it’s thrilling, exciting, at times humorous, and definitely, action-packed. Having read Robin Hobb’s entire series which featured close to zero action, this was the kind of book I need to read.
One of my critiques for the first book was that the characters felt like a carbon copy of pretty much any grimdark fantasy books, Hayes finally offers the revelations and backgrounds towards every major character that bring more complexity and unique personalities to each one of them. This ended up making each character’s motivation more logical and felt realistic. Without spoiling anything, I also would like to praise the larger scope of the world and the world-building, especially in a particular place that Keelin visited in the book. Drake didn’t actually play a lot of roles here but I’m totally okay with that, ever since the first book I tend to like reading Keelin’s and Elaina’s POV more anyway.
Now, I’ll be honest, I haven’t read a lot of pirate fantasy novels, Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch and Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb are two of the best one that I can remember, this book’s nautical battles are definitely up there in terms of quality. It was so awesome to see more of the pirates engaging in massive ships battles. Plus, combined with legendary creature and magic, I really enjoyed reading all the action sequences in the book.
Almost all my critiques of the previous book have vanished here, I think the only one left is that as I stated before, I still feel that if I’ve read Hayes main trilogy I definitely would enjoy this duology even more because I’m pretty sure that some of the characters or areas/cities that appeared in this book were a huge part of the main trilogy. Once again, the book was very well polished as I only spotted one typo and sentences were well structured.
The Fifth Empire of Man is proof that grimdark fantasy doesn’t have to be all dark, grotesque, or violent, but it can also be damn fun and entertaining. This may not be a book that goes into my favorites of all time shelves but I certainly had a blast with it. I totally recommend this duology for anyone who’s looking for a great grimdark/pirates fantasy or just simply a short series to read, I love gigantic series but once in a while I’d like to take a break with a shorter and fun series like this one. Now I’m off to get some rum and if I end up addicted to it, I’m blaming you, Hayes.