War of the Black Tower (The War of the Black Tower Trilogy, #1)

War of the Black Tower (The War of the Black Tower Trilogy, #1)

Write on: Sat, 29 Jul 2017 by  in SPFBO - ROUND 1 2839 comments Read 56058

I will describe War of the Black Tower as classic high fantasy with dark overtones that is highly derivative of many others that I had come across.

 The story is told from the third person perspective of Baleron, the out-of-favour son of the King of Havensrike.  He is the perceived black sheep of the family, fallen into disrepute for being known as a womanizer (especially of the married kind) and, from what I can gather, possibly a past incident of cowardice.  

The narrative started with a lot of action with Baleron and his best friend, Salthrick, being pursued by some Borchstogs, which is revealed to be a race of violent creatures which are minions of the dark lords.  Within a couple of chapters, we are treated to lots of killing, torture and gore as an army of Borchstogs stormed the fort of Ichil.  

And then we have an incredibly beautiful princess, Baleron's sister, Rolenya, who was to marry the prince of another land to forge an alliance with Havensrike. At her insistence, Baleron came to lead the caravans for her journey to be wedded. It shouldn't come as any surprise to say that all hell broke loose during that fateful trip. 

The pacing of the story was actually good. Boring travelling parts were almost completely absent and the narrative went straight into the meat of the events. However, the sheer amount of cliches and tropes that were evident in the story was very hard to ignore. The peril of the world at large was of the largely typical Dark God rising motif.  Out of that, we have the Dark lands, which just screamed Mordor, replete with volcanoes and rivers of fire. The Borschstogs reminded me of warrior orcs. Then we have the vampiric sons and followers of the Dark One who have bat wings and fangs, of course. To cap it all off, there were also elves, seemingly straight out of Tolkien's handbook, and as well as a potential relative of Smaug.  

To give some credit to the author, he did incorporate a bit of twist in the prophecy around the revival of this dark god. The characterization of Baleron was decent but I was too overwhelmed by the cliches to really get invested in him. The action scenes were also pretty good when I tried not to get too disenchanted by the problems I had with the book. 

While I don't have anything against fantasy tropes per se, there are tropes which are done well and those which are well overdone. In any case, there are fantasy readers out there who may enjoy this as these elements or themes of fantasy were the cornerstone of the genre decades ago for a reason. However, with the incredible levels of originality on display in contemporary fantasy of late, War of The Black Tower will necessarily be immensely challenged to gain any foothold among seasoned fantasy readers.

Last modified on Saturday, 29 July 2017 12:22

A self-professed geek and proud of it, I started reading at a tender age and never really stopped until work got in the way for several years.  I regained my voracious appetite for books a few years back and then started to enjoy writing down my thoughts.  I am more of an emotional/instinctual rather than a critical reader. 

Aside from reading, I enjoy outdoor sports (running, hiking, cycling, an occasional frisbee game), photography and travelling.


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