Deep, fast-paced epic fantasy
Deck Matthews’ epic fantasy series, The Riven Realm, continues in this third installment, A Shattering of Glass. This book picks up exactly where the second book in the series stopped, and from the first pages Matthews refuses to take his foot off the gas. The reveals come fast with each reveal leaving room for more questions and more depth that I expect the author will use to flesh out his world still more in the upcoming volumes.
In reviews of the previous books in this series I’ve talked about the excellent, even frenetic, pacing. A Shattering of Glass is no different. The pacing can only be described as breakneck. Somehow, even in the character moments, there isn’t any sense that things have slowed down. The plot moves from one point to the next with no lulls whatsoever. And that plot now truly begins to thicken. There are reveals that lead to more questions. One of the things I love is how Matthews has managed to cram so much worldbuilding into a novel that is quite small in comparison to the vast majority of epic fantasy. He does this all without any info dumping, helping to keep his pacing quick. There is a great deal of history to this world, myths and legends, and all those things we’ve come to expect in epic fantasy. But they are handled without resorting to pages of exposition. Another thing that I enjoyed seeing in this third novel was more character development. The characters are beginning to come into their own, and now that all of them are well established we’re able to observe some of the ways that they are growing and changing. We get a greater sense of the way they are being changed by the events they are part of, and that’s a very nice touch and something I felt had been lacking a little in the first and second books. The battle sequences here continue to be pulse-pounding. They feel fresh and interesting, and are often used to further the plot in some way, rather than simply being window dressing. Matthews also deserves praise for his consistency. The novels in this series have all been consistent across a number of areas, and that’s sometimes hard for authors to pull off in epic or historical fantasy series that are longer than three books.
I continue to find the greatest weakness of Matthews’ work to be its brevity. The fact that the books are short helps aid the pacing, but I’m confident the author could manage this sort of pacing in books that are twice as long. Sometimes each individual book can feel like it’s merely a chapter of a larger story - which is fine to a point, but it’s difficult to talk about a discernible beginning, middle, or end to each novel. It isn’t that nothing happens, but simply that the ending to each book is largely artificial, feeling more like a stopping point along the way. In the end, this doesn’t significantly impact my enjoyment, and the shorter length makes these novels easily binge-able.
If you enjoy deep, fast-paced epic fantasy, then Deck Matthews’ A Shattering of Glass is a novel for you. As the series continues, it only gets better.
Review by Calvin Park
8.5/10 from 1 reviews
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