- The Pagan Night (The Hallowed War #1).
- Tim Akers.
- 592 pages.
- Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Dark Fantasy / Grimdark.
- My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Celestial Church has all but eliminated the old pagan ways, ruling the people with an iron hand. Demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the warriors of the Inquisition, yet it’s the battling factions within the Church and age-old hatreds between north and south that tear the land apart.
Malcolm Blakley, hero of the Reaver War, seeks to end the conflict between men, yet it will fall to his son, Ian, and the huntress Gwen Adair to stop the killing before it tears the land apart. The Pagan Night is an epic of mad gods, inquisitor priests, holy knights bound to hunt and kill, and noble houses fighting battles of politics, prejudice, and power.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The land of Tenumbera once divided into the North and the South has now been united under the rule of the Celestial Church. This involved the North having to relinquish its Pagan past and ways.
This results in the old gods (known as gheists) being driven to madness by the lack of the faithful and their subsequent worship. They now roam the lands in their demonic forms maddened, rampaging and causing terror wherever they go.
The schemes of both the old and new gods and warring church factions once again brings the divide between the North and the South to the forefront and sees the lands of Tenumbera once again thrust into a conflict that threatens to tear the lands apart.
The Pagan Night is a book that pulled me in right from the start, the writing is of a high standard throughout the whole book and never wavers, the core set of main characters are well thought out and developed and the author does a good job of making you care what happens to them. The books pacing is good, it’s never a struggle to get through, the action scenes are well written, the humour makes you smile and the quiet moments, story and world building are interesting and intriguing. The world created is well-developed with lore and history and shows a lot of thought on the authors part.
I’ve only two complaints about the book and there about the actual book not the story or writing. Firstly, like most fantasy books, there’s a map at the beginning, it’s always nice to have a map as it helps you with getting to know where places are, etc especially with this being the first book in a new series but on this map there are battle lines for a battle that hasn’t actually taken place yet, which is itself a spoiler for what’s going to happen sometime in the book, as you know a battle will take place before you’ve even started reading, it’s a small point really as it’s epic fantasy, there’s going to be fighting, battles and war anyway but maybe it would have been better to have placed the map at the back of the book instead of the front.
My second complaint is the cover, again it’s another small point as the actual cover looks decent, it’s just rather generic, the character didn’t really resonate with me as any character in the actual book and to me, the cover didn’t entirely fit the tone of the book. I felt that a Joe Abercrombie or John Gwynne’s The Faithful And The Fallen series style cover would have better suited the book. There’s alot of fantasy books out there and the cover doesn’t standout, if you were in a book shop, looking at the fantasy shelf, it wouldn’t immediately jump out at you and say buy me.
This is the first book in a new epic fantasy series and I’m always slightly worried when starting a new series of books as unlike sequels or other books in the same series where you already know the main story, world and care about the characters you have a new story and setting to follow along with a new set of characters and a new world to learn about. I’m a big believer in that the main thing that makes a book great and a must read instead of just a book you read to kill the time is how much you care about the characters.
The story and the world created still need to be well thought out, involving and intriguing but ultimately it’s the characters who take you on the journey through the book/series and are who you do or do not feel a bond with. Do you care when they die? Do you feel their pain? Do you laugh when they laugh? Do you cheer when the bad guy gets his comeuppance? If you don’t care about the characters created then reading about them is a hollow experience as there’s nothing there, whereas, if your emotionally involved in the characters the author creates then to me that’s what makes a book great.
Now, the questions are, does this book make you care about the characters? Does the story pull you in? And should I buy the book?
And the answer to all is a resounding YES!!!
It’s a great start to a new epic fantasy series. It has all the usual tropes that we’ve come to expect in fantasy, heroes, villains, mad gods, inquisitor priests, holy knights, magic, politics, noble houses and religion but they are all done to a high standard with a world that feels Celtic inspired, rich in detail, lore and history. Add in a set of well-developed characters all with their own unique personalities and traits that through the course of the book you really get to know, pulling you into their story and it makes for a good book. The Huntress Gwen Adair, aging hero of the Reaver War Malcolm Blakley and his son Ian are all standout characters that the story centres around.
It’s a complex, engrossing story that pulled me in right from the start, the book flows well with a slow start building to an epic finale and never once was I bored or found it a slog to get through. It’s a cliché but with The Pagan Night, Akers has created a real page turner. All in all it’s a high quality, entertaining read with both new and old school fantasy elements incorporated. I look forward to continuing the tale Akers has started and seeing where the story goes in the sequel.
Ignore the very generic looking cover and give the book a chance, it’s deeper and far more rewarding than the cover would suggest.
Highly recommended to all fantasy and grimdark fans.
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