Trial Of Stone, the debut in a new 5 book series by the ever-prolific Andy Peloquin, is the perfect novel for fans of multi-POV epic fantasy in the vein of Brandon Sanderson and John Gwynne. It tells the stories of Issa, Evren, Kodyn, and Aisha, who each have very different missions, but as the story progresses, become more and more intertwined as the thief, the assassin and the aspiring Keeper’s Blade’s quests bring them together in a dangerous web of intrigue and deception.
While set in the same world as both of Peloquin’s other series, "Hero Of Darkness" and "Queen of Thieves," there is no need to have completed those series to enjoy this one. Peloquin gives us enough background about Evren and Hailen’s relationship with The Hunter, and Kodyn’s relationship with Ilanna, that readers won’t feel lost. They will, however, likely want to go back and find out more about Peloquin’s wonderfully fleshed out world.
Much of the novel takes place in Shalandra, a city corruptly governed by priests of the God of Death, where people are segregated in to “castes,” some elevated to near royal status, while others are relegated to subservience with the inability to ever rise in status. It’s the perfect setting for the type of conflict the novel presents, where even those with the best of intentions often struggle to trust those that would be their closest allies.
Being book one in a hugely ambitious series, there is quite a lot of setup here. We learn extensively about each of the POVs, their backgrounds and their individual quests. Alliances are formed, and intensity builds. Aisha, Kodyn’s friend who accompanies him on his mission, is particularly significant as she is able to interact with the dead, which is really the first use of magic in the novel. The side characters are also written in to storylines in a way that almost ensures that they will be developed and integrated more in future books.
Peloquin writes excellent complex plots, but at his core is a character based author. Through a great deal of interaction, and some inner monologue, he makes us care about his characters, their struggles and their conquests. He manages the difficult task of bringing a sense of urgency to each one of his story beats, and unlike his individually centred other series his challenge of maintaining interest with each POV is masterfully accomplished. There are a number of truly emotional moments in this novel.
What’s amazing about Trial Of Stone, perhaps above anything else is the complexity of the world, it’s systems of government, the beautiful descriptive prose, and the fact that this is the type of novel that takes many authors 5 years to write. Andy Peloquin has become one of my favorite authors. His prolificacy never hinders the quality of his work, and he sets a very high benchmark for self published Fantasy. I will be devouring this series quickly, with more detailed reviews as it goes on and I look forward to what Andy offers us next.
Review by Michael Gruneir
8.7/10 from 1 reviews
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