Josh Erikson continues to amaze with this follow up to one of the finest urban fantasy debuts out there. Fate Lashed picks up from where Hero Forged closed, with protagonist Gabe and his faithful partner-in-crime, the succubus Heather trying to learn more about the mysterious powers possessed by the cocky conman with a heart of gold.
I listened to the audiobook, kindly offered to me by the author in return for an honest review. What I found was a continuity of all the voices from the first book, as well as a variety of new, unique voices for many of the newcomers. Josh Erikson again voices this one, if that wasn’t clear already and I am continually astonished by his range – he has talent in spades, and I would be happy if someone paid him to read other books, as well. The voice of Akamanah continues to be a blast to listen to, he’s just so delightfully evil. Slimy, sinister Philip, too…but I could go on and on all day long; Josh nails every single character, imbuing them with life only the way their author could.
While Hero Forged took its time to set up the world, Fate Lashed doesn’t pull any punches – the action starts early on and does not let off as the book progresses well into its sixteen hours or 375 pages. Gabe is no longer quite the freshly faced newcomer to the supernatural world of the Umbra. Though he’s by no means an expert, he now takes most of the reality-warping madness that makes its way into his life in stride. What more can a guy ask for, really?
The emotional heart of the novel is the relationship between Gabe and Heather. Whenever they’re working to save each other’s skins, bickering like an old married couple, having a heart-to-heart conversation that leaves much untold, these two characters have an enormous amount of chemistry going on between them. The “will they, won’t they” trope is well-known but Josh makes it feel fresh; whether because one half of this relationship is a succubus or because he’s got a knack for the kind of dialogue that’s thick with unspoken meaning, I can’t quite decide. Maybe it’s both these factoring into it. But one thing’s for sure, the development of this relationship is even more rewarding here than in Hero Forged.
I was quite pleased with the plot. Great factions within Umbra society are angling to gain an item of cosmic importance, the Igla; to that end, the leader of the Crones, Esme, has entered into an agreement with two other Umbra factions, one represented by your friendly neighbourhood evil god, Akamanah, the other – by salesman-next-door type of mystery-man, Phillip (if the personality and name remind you of this reviewer, it’s mere coincidence). The agreement? Choose human champions and set them one against the other in a race to decide which of these three factions will wield the reality-altering artefact.
Gabe and Heather are, quickly wrapped up into serving the interests of about all three of these factions (and a smaller faction, to spare!), but they’re not alone. Mutambe, a hexen (minor sorcerer using hexes and trickery), the leader of the team Gabe and Heather agree to work for; Dante, a minotaur who definitely doesn’t look like Dante from Devil May Cry but, I’ve been told by author Josh Erikson, will strike out on his own in upcoming series Revenant May Die*; and Lorelei, the grand-daughter of an Umbra and capable academic scholar whose abilities are invaluable in the search for the Igla. Some excellent team dynamics are on display and I’m looking forward to seeing how the members of this team move forward come whatever’s next for the Ethereal Earth series.
Of the twists I saw coming along the way, all of them did an excellent job of developing the characters further and moving events swiftly along in an exciting direction. Those that I didn’t see coming were even more thrilling and well set up along the way, on reflection.
Erikson delivers masterful pacing with every chapter – not a dull moment is to be had, our group of characters forced from one conflict into the next, many of the entirely unexpected.
I went through this novel as a buddy read with Timy from RockStarlit BookAsylum(check her blog out!) It’s nice to have someone to talk through different points of the book and swap thoughts and theories with. I did some serious theory crafting as to the cosmic order of things in the Ethereal Earth series, based on what we have so far seen, and Timy humoured me for the better part of twenty minutes. Thanks, Timy!
Without further ado, I give this novel a 5/5! Fate Lashed is a solid read with excellent characters and dialogue, non-stop action, and a world you’ll enjoy diving into time and time again!
You might enjoy this novel if:
*I might’ve made up the bit about Revenant May Die but I’m hoping that this review will inspire yet more greatness in Josh Erikson.