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The Broken Isles by Mark Charan Newton

The Broken Isles by Mark Charan Newton
Book Name: The Broken Isles
Author: Mark Charan Newton
Publisher(s): Tor UK
Formatt: Hardcover / eBook
Genre(s): Fantasy / Science Fantasy
Release Date: July 5, 2012

Well, here we are ladies and gents, the finale fling for The Legends of the Red Sun series. And you know what? What a satisfying last jaunt it is.

The prologue introduces us to Jeza, a young cultist of sorts who is led to the remains of an ages-old creature known as the Mourning Wasp (created from a sketch by China Mieville), and her plans to resurrect the beast, for uses yet unknown. This is a step up from cultist powers we’ve seen thus far, and has some very interesting consequences.

The Broken Isles proper starts where The Book of Transformations left off; Villjamur destroyed, and thousands of refugees fleeing a new, alien aggressor, led by Inquisitor Fulcrom, Lan and Tane, late of the Villjamur Knights, the cultist-created superheroes, and the mysterious Frater Mercury, being from another time altogether. Meanwhile, in Villiren, now annexed from the Empire, Commander Brynd Lathraea, alongside the Jamur sisters, works to clean up and restore peace after the Okun invasion, unaware that a much larger threat is making its way east.

This is a book I do not envy Mark for having to write. With so many different storylines to bring together and conclude, the book could quite easily have become a mess of scattered perspectives and actions. Instead, he systematically draws the characters closer, finishing business as appropriate, whilst still having fun along the way.

The main focus of the book is the alien invasion, and the cessation thereof. Teaming up with Artemisia and her people who arrive from their dimension through the Realm Gates, Brynd sets up a successful network of communication, and the two groups work together to save the archipelago, for the sake of both parties. The invaders arrived with genocide in mind, a new refuge for their own peoples after the protracted war that has been raging in their own dimension, and it will take immense power to stop them.

Malum also makes a welcome return in this book, up to his usual tricks. Still determined to take control of Villiren and reform it into a pirate city, he uses the population’s fear and prejudices to stir up hatred of the new settlers, and lead a revolution on the Citadel when the military are occupied elsewhere. The conclusion of his storyline in particular was very satisfying, not only in how it comes about, but in the other parties involved. I’m sure there will be others who read this with a smirk on their face like I had.

As always in a Mark Newton book, there are many underlying issues that get the reader thinking as they read along. The differences in culture and racial discrimination inherent in people is prominent in the dealings with the newly arrived peoples fighting alongside the Empire, and the Malum-led rebellion at these newcomers being allowed to settle. This is exacerbated by Malum’s personal hatred for Brynd, due to the former’s homophobic tendencies, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to stop the Commander from gaining control of the city further.

The environmental concerns of the ice age are altered in this volume also; the source is discovered, and the changing climate forces a rethink in the way battles are fought, due to the changing condition of the landscape. The exodus from Villjamur is jeopardized by the freezing cold, and their escape from the island of Jokull is anything but assured. Whilst not always front and centre on the page, these issues should continue to turn over in the reader’s mind as they move through the story, showing off Mark’s talent at discussing important issues in a discreet and intelligent way.

The battle scenes in this novel are, whilst not always as huge and sprawling as the attack on Villiren in The City of Ruin, very much fit for purpose. The mission to take Frater Mercury to the sky-city, and the siege on the Citadel in Villiren are just as intense as the battle for Lantuk, and the chain of settlements along Folke’s coast.

I personally think Mark’s greatest success throughout this series has been in creating characters that the reader can become attached to very easily, and tugs on the heartstrings when things begin to go wrong for them. Several times during my reading, I had to put the book down and compose myself, and I found myself cheering the events of the last chapter, as much for the consequences for the characters as for the deftly handled, satisfying conclusion of the series.

If you are a fan of The Legends of the Red Sun series, then I do believe you will find The Broken Isles a satisfying and enjoyable end of our time on the Boreal Archipelago. There are storylines set up in the previous novels which come to an end in this with impressive results, and whilst not every question is answered, we leave the world in a good place, on the mend, and with what we can hope are happy times ahead for the characters.

The Broken Isles is the best conclusion to a series I have read in a good while, and it is all down to Mark’s fantastic characters, intriguing story-weaving and deft hand at handling important issues inherent in his work.



  1. Avatar Overlord says:

    Hey Laura, great review and I’m so glad to hear that this series finishes strong. Mark Newton’s such a great British author. I’ve been lucky enough to read an early version of his next novel and I have to say that you NEED to watch out for it…. damned awesome.

    • Avatar Lor says:

      You know I have to hunt you down and steal that off you, right? 😛

      But yes, definitely read this, complete the story, and leave very happy 🙂

  2. Avatar Not-So-Bloody-Nine says:

    FYI, MCN name-checked FF and the review on his blog:


  3. […] of the Red Sun” series over in my writing gig at Fantasy-Faction. You can read it here http://fantasy-faction.com/2012/the-broken-isles-by-mark-charan-newton if you’re so inclined. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  4. […] light to mine, you might want to check out fellow Fantasy Faction Dragon, Laura Graham’s review.) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  5. Avatar Ian Jamieson says:

    Newtons fantasy novels are without doubt some of the best I have ever read, and this coming from a hard core Science Fiction fan, however I feel there is too m,uch cop out to rate it 5 out of 5, eg his use of the God to destroy the floating city, and his timely killing of the gangs leader Malum.Aside from that possibly the best Fantasy series I have ever read

  6. Avatar Phil says:

    I hate to be a bit of a party pooper but I thought the last volume in the Legends of the Red Sun series rather bland and quite average.

    I agree with a lot of what has been written so far on this page especially the undercurrent of issues that can be thought about in the “real world”: climate change, political propaganda, immigration, warfare to name a few.

    My main gripes are the uneven pacing of the novel and the linear nature of the storyline. So much happens on the last twenty pages or so. The final act of the book is compacted into the final twenty pages; the huge onslaught that has been looming for most of the book is easily and swiftly curtailed in a rather convenient (and dare I say it?) uneventful turn of events. I was hoping for a few more twists and turns too.

    Mark’s characters are great and it was welcome that certain characters’ unique aspects that were previously picked out and made a big deal of in earlier books, are not overstressed here and but neither have they been forgotten.

    I feel like Mark likes to leave a certain amount of detail to the reader’s imagination and whilst I enjoyed not having everything spelt out to me, in the end I didn’t think there was enough for me to be arsed about when the series was ultimately wrapped up.

    Having said all this, I enjoy Mark’s writing and am eager to find out how his next noir/ detective/ fantasy book turns out!


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