The Beginning of Sorrows by Walter E Mark (The Sixth World of Men: Book 3)

The Avengers are loose. Do they have anything to do with the prophecy concerning the twelfth? On the brink of the twelfth, a few dream dreams. What do they mean? Do the dreams hold the key to the prophesied crisis? The reactions seen with in the sixth world of men are varied. Some believe the prophecy, while others reject it as folly. Some whisper about conspiracies. Do they know something? What will really happen on the twelfth? Is there a way to avoid it? Is there really a crisis to avoid? The people of Kosundo will soon know the answers. The twelfth of Setmi is upon them…

Walter E Mark’s third novel in this hybrid fantasy/science-fiction series expands further upon the previous two books, introducing us to lots of new characters, as well as continuing the stories of our old friend Agap, and the antagonist Neaotomo, who with his single-minded pursuit of power, and the help of a mysterious, guiding presence will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. These two characters still dominate the central plot although they appear to a far lesser degree in this book.

Agap has always been an interesting character due to the inner conflict he faces over his faith, and its opposition to his sole drive to better mankind with technology. The story places a lot of emphasis on faith and the advancement of technology, and how these opposed views influence the tale.

The strong pre-occupation with time again prevails, and the Sixth World’s catastrophic events continue to unfold at a breathless pace, as The Avengers approach Kosundo, bringing destruction to the world. This central plot brings an immediacy and excitement to the storyline and delivers a sense of urgency to the proceedings.

In this book, one of Mark’s key abilities is the way he runs numerous characters and arcs alongside each other, without confusing the reader. The story doesn’t suffer as a result of all the parallel arcs as they come together in a way reminiscent to techniques used by writers such as Martin and Erikson. This is achieved with Mark’s easy, uncluttered approach to storytelling. His style doesn’t bog the reader down with heavy exposition or narrative, but instead forces the plot along at a relaxed, immersive pace.

With all the different threads combining, a more layered exploration of the Sixth World of Men is developed and a deeper world building and character development follows. Mark creates a stronger, more vivid and complete world, in which his story unfolds, bringing the first trilogy successfully to a conclusion. However, it is an ending which leaves countless questions unanswered and a need for future resolution, but it does bring a sense that something profound has changed.

I have enjoyed this trilogy and was often reminded of Asimov’s Foundation books. I would recommend these books to anyone interested in fantasy or science-fiction.

9/10 I would recommend these books to anyone interested in fantasy or science-fiction.

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