Well, it’s official. Rob J. Hayes is the best author I’ve discovered in 2020. Now, it’s still early, so that could change - but it’s going to take a big effort to change that after The Lessons Never Learned.
The Lessons Never Learned is book 2 in The War Eternal. It’s a grimdark fantasy trilogy about Eska, a young magician struggling to reconcile her urges for revenge with her longing for human connection. It follows on from book 1, Along the Razor’s Edge, and while the characters, themes, and plots continue, it couldn’t be a more different book. Along the Razor’s Edge is set in an underground prison. It’s claustrophobic, tense, and at times I found it a little slow. The Lessons Never Learned, however, opens the world up. We follow a much older Eska - fleeing from ruthless hunters - who takes refuge in a flying city and reluctantly agrees to do a dangerous mission for the god that rules it.
I read Never Die as a judge for the SPFBO finalists. And I LOVED IT. Wonderful characterisation, intriguing plot, masterfully written action sequences and natural dialogue.
“The difference between the rich and the powerful was always made so much clearer by walls. The rich hide behind them, the powerful tore them down.”
Never Die is one of my favourite reads over the last year. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started, but by the end of the first chapter, I was enraptured.
Starting with the prose, Hayes wrote amazing pieces such as…
"Some fight for honour, and some for reward.
Some for glory, and others for a cause.
Some fight for freedom, from tyranny and hate.
And some fight for love, not for a person but a name.
With death as their guide, their companion and goal.
They cross all Hosa, spirit, flesh, and soul.
Hounded by demons, from the pages of lore.
What starts with a whisper, must end with a roar."
And the rest of the time the prose was just as enchanting. Natural, smooth and fluid. It was so easy to just glide from page to page, as is evident due to the fact I finished this in about 36 hours, with a large chunk of that being when I was asleep.
At the core of this story is the awesome idea to bring heroes back from the dead and fight on your side! It just appeals to my interests and passions so much. How cool would it be to have some of the best warriors and heroes in one band? Well, Never Die surpassed my expectations in how EPIC it was to have a group of such people.
The plot was so cool with the growing party of characters who each had a great variety of personalities. There were certainly some huge twists I did not expect that were subtly hinted at. But those of the kind you only piece together when its already happened.
Now onto the action sequences. Simply, they’re brilliant. Instantly immersive and vivid, with no confusion at all about what is actually happening. In most books I get slightly lost in large-scale conflicts, but once again, Never Die is one of those rare novels that succeeds in this element. From small scale duels to epic battles, each was brilliant and masterfully depicted.
"Sometimes peace is no more than oppression in disguise.”
Overall, I think it’s safe to say that I loved this book. Wonderful array of characters, brilliant plot, fantastic core idea and wonderful action sequences. I’m definitely going to read some more Hayes!
Hey, everyone! On behalf of the Booknest.eu team, I am pleased to reveal the cover to Rob J. Hayes' The Lessons Never Learned, Book Two of The War Eternal series! The cover art is by the ludicrously talented Felix Ortiz and the typography is by Shawn King!
As Book One, Along the Razor's Edge, has yet to be released, Rob has chosen to keep the synopsis for this second part of Eskara Helsene's journey under wraps. Instead, take a look at the synopsis for the opening of the trilogy, releasing March 30:
No one escapes the Pit.
At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.
If this has caught your attention, I've an extra treat for you: my review of Along the Razor's Edge! I can't recommend this one enough, folks!