Shaping up to be one of the best epic fantasy series of the past several decades.
It’s been over four years since I last read a book by Tom Lloyd, four of six ‘The Twilight Reign’ books sitting on my shelf for years, untouched, but ever calling me to read them. Finally, despite a seemingly impressive backlog of new books I should be reading, I turned to my shelves and picked up ‘The Twilight Herald’, the second book in the series.
I vaguely remembered being relatively impressed with the first book in the series, ‘The Stormcaller’, though I barely remember its contents or why I would have like or disliked it. Thankfully, The Twilight Herald starts with a synopsis of what has come before, and I was able to muddle my way through the opening chapters with relative ease.
And surprise, surprise, I was actually immediately enthralled.
It is not normal to return to a series after such a long time apart (though I imagine authors like George R. R. Martin and Kristen Britain may disagree with me) and seamlessly re-integrate with the world. But with each of the first few chapters I read, I was again and again drawn in to the story as if it was a first book in a series.
Tom Lloyd writes a beautiful story, and knowing as I do what comes next (accidental spoilerage a hazard of my job), I am completely blown away by just how comprehensively the characters and world in which they live are dealt with.
I do not remember if the first book was similarly laid out, but The Twilight Herald jumps between POV characters pretty regularly – and is does so with great skill. Not only do we often jump from one part of the continent (or, as the story progresses, from one part of the city) to another chapter to chapter, but within those chapters we sometimes jump from head to head. Normally this is a sign of poor writing, or is executed poorly – but in Tom Lloyd’s case, he makes use of the various points of view to weave his story in a way that is even clearer. Any number of characters have the opportunity to input into the way the story is being told and interpreted.
The overarching threat that builds throughout this book is at once horrifying and intensely intriguing. And while I again cannot remember if it is remarkable to this book or not, it is sufficiently dealt with and then allowed to linger between books that I am desperate now to go find the third book and start reading.
The characters are the most impressive feat of this book – though, in saying that, I do not intend to take away from the colossal world and mythology that threatens to compare itself to the world of Steven Erikson and Ian C Esslemont’s Malazan Empire. A wide variety of races are represented in easy company, without it looking as if the author had to ignore common sense to place a vampire opposite a human with the soul of an elf in his mind. And those characters that appear to be the stereotypical protagonist are soon found to be simply one in a dozen – not background characters, but simply not as important as another author may rely upon.
Tom Lloyd’s The Twilight Reign series is surely shaping up to be one of the best epic fantasy series of the past several decades, and while I’m late to the party, I can’t wait to keep going.
Review by Joshua S Hill
8.5/10 from 1 reviews
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