“A spellbook has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell – a very old and extremely powerful spellbook from the time of dark elves and demons. Five scholars are dead, the magick council is running out of time and options, and the Arka is once again on the brink of war with the Siren dragon-riders.
It falls to Farden the Written mage to keep the world from falling into chaos. Entangled in a web of lies and politics, Farden must recover the spellbook before an ancient enemy rises, even if it takes journeying halfway across icy Emaneska and back.
In his fight for answers, Farden will unearth a secret that not only shakes the foundations of his world, but threatens the entire future of Emaneska. Sorcery, death, drugs and the deepest of betrayals await.”
This book is over ten years old. As a debut, it is a good foundation to build a series on. I really enjoyed the world of Emaneska. If you like flashy magic and sword play alongside in-depth worldbuilding this could be a good match. I’ve read a later book by Galley, Chasing Graves, and I can see a lot of improvement between the two. The Written has a few spots where the prose feels a little clunky but for the most part the writing is solid. The main issue I found was the result of the main character, Farden, being such a lone wolf. Because of that he keeps everyone at arm’s length which prevents meaningfully emotional conversation. In order to develop Farden’s character, this means that introspection is the author’s primary tool, which at one point dragged down the pace of the novel a bit. The most unique thing about Farden’s character is his struggle with addiction, something usually triggered by trauma, but the trauma in Farden’s past doesn’t really play into that story thread.
In general though, the story moves at a good clip and it kept me interested. The characters are diverse and unique. It’s a plot driven novel so the relative lack of character depth was expected and its worth noting that I anticipate this aspect is improved upon in subsequent installments.
The plot is very good. I like the stolen grimoire and hunt for the culprit that unfolds. I just really enjoy a lot of the tropes this hit. There were a number of well executed action scenes and memorable locations that kept things fresh and kept me turning pages. Setting and worldbuilding was where this book shined, and that sold me on continuing with the series. Emaneska is a multifaceted world with cool history and secrets to explore. It’s inhabited by mythic level badasses and the revelations at the conclusion of book one set the stage for a confrontation of epic proportions.
Ten years later Ben Galley has just released “The Forever King” book one of the second series set in Emaneska, The Scalussen Chronicles. I’ve already heard good things so I’m eager to catch up. The Written did not disappoint so I’ll no doubt be taking another journey to Emaneska sometime soon.