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The Way into Chaos by Harry Connolly – SPFBO Review

The Way into Chaos by Harry Connolly – SPFBO Review
3.5
Book Name: The Way into Chaos
Author: Harry Connolly
Publisher(s): Radar Avenue Press
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: December 18, 2014

The city of Peradain is the heart of an empire built with steel, spears, and a monopoly on magic. Until, in a single day, it falls, overthrown by a swarm of supernatural creatures of incredible power and ferocity. Neither soldier nor spellcaster can stand against them. The empire’s armies are crushed, its people scattered, its king and queen killed. Freed for the first time in generations, city-states scramble to seize neighboring territories and capture imperial spellcasters. But as the creatures spread across the land, these formerly conquered peoples discover they are not prepared to face the enemy that destroyed an empire. Can the last Peradaini prince, pursued by the beasts that killed his parents, cross battle-torn lands to retrieve a spell that might—just might—turn the battle against this new enemy?

Any author that gets a book through to the final of the SPFBO has done an amazing thing. Not only have they poured their heart into its creation, but that effort has been recognised by a worthy blog/reviewer. Like every review, this one comes down to personal tastes and opinions.

The Way into Chaos by Harry Connolly has a classic fantasy, almost YA feel to it. Our young heroes are off an adventure which will bring them face to face with their destiny.

The books has flaws such as being a bit predictable in places, due to its tropes. However, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing if the journey through the story is still enjoyable. Add to that comfort of reading a book where the usual tropes and genre hooks, are present – it feels like coming home after a long day and pouring yourself a glass of wine.

Perfection can be cold and distant. Flaws and imperfections are what makes life interesting. For instance, the characters were likeable, but at times stereotypical. There’s definitely some POVs that were more interesting to follow than others. Some of the characters stay the way we meet them, while others undergo big changes – and that character growth felt well executed enough to make up for some weaker moments.

The Way into Chaos begins with a prince, a lazy, drunkard who seems not to take any of his learning or training seriously. A grumpy, gruff and old weapon master must try to train this lackadaisical prince, doing his best to teach while holding back his dislike. The prince’s friends are not well liked or respected at court and yet our somewhat rebellious prince likes them anyway.

There is a feeling at the start that nothing much is going to happen, that this prince and his friends are wasting the privilege into which they were born, but it changes. Now that their lives have been turned upside down, with safety and wealth only a memory, the story really gets going. Here the author uses the opportunity to show the growth of his characters, to challenge their world view and force upon them the choice to change and grow, or remain true to themselves and grow.

Some of the prince’s friends, stay to look after the prince when he falls ill. Others head off into the world to seek help while still more leave and begin their own adventure. It is a clever device, which is why it is used often; build stability for your characters then rip it all away. Heroes need to be tested, and it’s usually the ones who succeed that we follow, though some stories are best when they fail in sight of their goal.

The worldbuilding is shown off as the characters travel on their adventures and the magic system gets a good use throughout. Even the characters understanding of their world is uncertain and there are hidden areas they must discover and survive.

The plot was interesting, though in parts it meandered a little, the pace stuttering some at times, but the writing was smooth enough to balance it out. Perhaps some people might find the prose a little too simple, and seek some deeper imagery. Others will appreciate its more sparse nature, its focus on the characters. These are likeable, each has a unique voice which develops further in the second half.

The pace of the book increases as the reader is drawn into the story more and more the further you progress into the book. One of our judges has already expressed a desire to pick up the sequel. It is also worth mentioning the great narration on the audiobook.

We’re pretty sure that if you pick up this book, you will enjoy it.

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