The author clearly spent a lot of time world-building for this story, and that richness comes across on every page. The writing itself is extremely well-crafted and nearly goof-free, which makes for a very enjoyable reading experience. While the book could easily be for a YA audience, the language and subject matter also feels very adult so that the book can be enjoyed by all ages.
The world itself is a bit of a mystery. It feels old (think Middle-Earth with different races/civilizations), but there are hints that something big happened in the past which brought the world to its current state. We’re immediately thrown into the conflict between the Brotherhood of Shadows and the Children of Light, and these two groups seem to have a history stretching back some time. What started this conflict? Not sure. Much of the background is purposefully vague so you have to jump right in, and the lack of exposition for the most part works really well. (It also is worth noting that this is the first book in a collection of sorts, and I suspect a lot of the other characters/storylines will be fleshed out in the sequels, which is a unique way to go about a series and I think will pay off really well.)
The plot itself was really, really good and changed in direction many times from the way I assumed things were headed – this is in no way a typical, predictable story. We start with the “bad guys” as demons are called forth from hell to do the Brotherhood’s bidding. Then the “good guys” come in and we see that the semi-immortal Children of Light are an equally fascinating culture. We meet Chaos on one side and Anathema on the other, and although they’re from different sides of the war it’s immediately clear that they’re kindred spirits. And THAT’S what I found most interesting about the story – the author shows the struggle between good and evil, even within a single character, showing that sometimes the lines are not so easily drawn.
I will say that Chaos and Anathema both really annoyed me for about the first half of the book, but they’re supposed to be arrogant, testosterone-driven know-it-alls, so I’m sure that was mostly purposeful on the author’s part. But all the whining was a bit much for me. However, once they met and the unexpected twist happened, the story got bigger with the introduction of angels and other characters, and that helped to smooth out the story for me. Because this is Chaos’s chronicle, the minor characters weren’t fleshed out very much, and even when we see glimpses from their viewpoints these characters felt a little bit flat to me. I would’ve liked to get a little wider feel for the world and these people, but again the author is clearly focused on this being Chaos’s story, so the focus makes sense.
All in all, I enjoyed the book and liked the moral complexity the author infused into the story. Definitely worth a read if you like fantasy with a unique mythology involving demons and angels.
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