How do you follow up an excellent start to a series such as Legacy of Ash? Well, Matthew Ward has the answer. Write a better sequel. Yes, in my amateur opinion, Legacy of Steel is a more than worthy addition. Viktor is missing, the council can’t seem to agree on anything, allowing the Parliament of Crows to wreak havoc in the city. Just for good measure, the Hadari haven’t quite picked up and gone home. Instead, they are attempting to finish the job. That’s the plot, but there is so much more to this book than that. You can read the bumpf for more info.
The writing is superb throughout, the descriptions are crisp and the dialogue feels very natural. Ward adds to his world, adding new factions that generate more interest and plot strands. The world is harsh and there is an overarching darkness that pervades every scene. However, not all is grim - Ward adds humour (and some great laughs) throughout which is an essential element. In my amateur opinion, humans will find humour in the darkest of times, and any fiction book that lacks humour, lacks humanity.
This leads me to the characters, which are without a shadow of a doubt the best thing about the series. We have gods, demons, magickers and more and every one of them feels real. The author does a great job of making each character not just believable, but likeable. Case in point - in Legacy of Ash, Ebigail Kiradin, was my favourite character despite her being the Big Bad (not a spoiler). Each character is different, dealing with their various issues in differing ways. What stands out most is that while there are perceivable “enemies,” their motivations are justifiable and it’s hard to fault them. When the line between “good and evil” (meh!) is blurred, it makes for a far more captivating story and the Legacy Trilogy is building up to a stellar ending. Legacy of Light is sitting on my desk awaiting reading. When I power through my TBR and get to it, I’ll let you know.
You know how sometimes on social media people ask us to name our favourite underrated book or series? The Twilight Reign is mine. While not every book in a series is created equally, this was a blast throughout, following a master plan to a satisfying end. This review is somewhat about the final book, but mostly about the series.
Disclaimer - I read this in September 2020, so forgive me if I’m a little hazy on some of the details. Also, I’ve been reading the series for the last 15 years or so.
So, what’s it all about?
The problem with a five-book series is narrowing it down, so try these, although they don’t even come close:
Pick one. They all fit, even the wishy-washy ones, but none are perfect, so we’ll move on.
Is it any good?
It is great. Not all the books are equal, but they are all worth a read as each plays a role in the big finale. I think book three is my favourite, but with longer series, it’s akin to having a favourite chapter. Isak, the main character, is a white eye, a genetic “deformity” that gives him great size and strength but also inspires hatred and fear in others, especially his father. The first book leads him to become heir to a kingdom, but his real purpose is far greater. Along the way, Isak is constantly pulled through the wringer but somehow maintains his path. The loyalties of his friends and foes switch often, many you (well, I didn’t) won’t see coming. Lloyd draws on a large repertoire of British mythology to fill out his world, so while the names may sound familiar, they are changed enough to appear new. The world itself is brutal, with warring factions on all sides, sometimes within the same boundaries, and the level of destruction is on a continental, if not a global, scale.
But wait! This all sounds very bleak and horrific, and it is. But war is bleak and horrific, yet the stories of the people and their efforts to come through in times like these shine through. Isak is the beleaguered hero of beleaguered heroes, yet some of his actions will anger even his biggest fans. His friend, King Emin, is a noble royal, yet he knows that sometimes dirty deeds must be done to save the day and has his own secret army for such missions. Every faction has its motivations - there are no real boo-hiss bad guys here - at least in my opinion. If you want a light and fluffy series, this is probably not for you. If you want a dark but ultimately rewarding series, then I heartily recommend The Twilight Reign. Also, any book with an awesome dog deserves praise.
An epic end to an epic series.
Fun story - I remember when I started this book, the prologue was outstanding but was quickly followed by “introductory” chapters which encouraged me to move on to other books with pending reviews. A few months later, I went back to it and expected more of the same. I…WAS…WRONG!!! This book was not just epic, it was one of the best fantasy novels I have read in a long time. This is of course a bold claim, so let me try and convince you too.