Rise of the TaiGethen by James Barclay
Review by Joshua S Hill
Fantasy Book Review Book of the Month, August 2012
One day as I was working on parts of the website I discovered that the release of James Barclay’s latest book, ‘The Rise of the TaiGethen’, had somehow completely bypassed me. I had no idea it had happened and was now even closer to the release of the third book in the series than I was to the second.
I was devastated, because as has been made plainly clear here at FBR, I rather love James Barclay. Everything he puts his hands to turns to gold.
Rise is the second book in Barclay’s ‘Elves’ trilogy, which takes place many millennia before the events of his ‘Raven’ series’ of books. Really, this series has always been a place where Barclay could expand and dedicate more of his time to exploring a race of people that very quickly became unsurprisingly prominent.
And the best bit of all is that, because some of the elves are so long lived, we get to see a few of them in both series.
Yeah, I love Auum.
Rise takes place 150 years after the elves were enslaved by the humans, led by Ystormun. The elvish coastal cities are nothing but work camps, housing thousands of elves in conditions not fit for beast nor… elf. And for every human killed by an elf, ten elves die.
But there is trouble back on Balaia and Ystormun is forced to push up his timetable, thanks in part to the new ClawBound elves, who didn’t exist last time we had been taken around Calaius, but had existed in the Raven books later on. Always nice to see the links take place.
This book is, from one way of looking at it, one extended running fight scene. Auum leads his TaiGethen in attempting to halt the oncoming mass of humans, and much blood is spilled; elf and man alike. But there are many more men than there are elves, and each elvish life is precious. You can feel the pressure building as the pages turn. Each step the humans take is a step closer to elvish extermination. The losses are catastrophic, bloody, and at times utterly heart wrenching. I mentioned on Twitter halfway through this book that Barclay has made me cry more than any author out there. Same goes for this book. I am inherently devoted to the elves, their lives and their way of life, and whenever something goes wrong for them, I hurt.
There have been very few authors who have been able to so perfectly attach a reader to a character and write fighting sequences like Barclay does. He is, in no uncertain terms, a master of the storytelling craft, wringing emotional distress from the reader at the same as blood and gore splatters across the page.
Rise of the TaiGethen is a perfect example of why Barclay is one of the best in the business. Without the historical nuance that Erikson writes, Barclay delivers a book that is nevertheless heart wrenching, expertly crafted and immensely enjoyable to read over and over and over again. The Elves trilogy is most definitely worth your time; go pick it up now!
Kat from Asia
I was quite confused by the flashes of the scenes, frankly. I agree with the action being good and emotionally wrenching but if you are feeling down it's not suitable for you. I preferred the elven mages rather than the TaiGethen. Actually the TaiGethen are like South American warriors, I see a resemblance when I watch nature films. I do like fantasy + action, yet light hearted scenes are lacking. My favourite of this author would be the first 2 books which did not have too many of the main cast dying off. Being more dreamy and wanting to escape the constraints of daily life, and I'm an idealist like Ilkar (most awesome elf ever!); brutality spoils the appetite of the soul. I don't really weep but when good guys are hurt tragically, I'm furious. In my head I have a graph of ups and downs, up would be the first part of the Chronicles... then going down with the flames. Hopefully there'd be some light at the end of the tunnel, less death?
Noelle from United States
Absolutely loved it and I can hardly wait until the next one. James is a genius when it comes to writing stories.
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