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Official Ian Graham Website
Order "Monument" HERE
Browsing around the internet one day, I came across a fantasy novel I had never heard of before: Ian Graham’s “Monument”.
Originally released in 2002/2004 (UK/US), “Monument” is the self-contained tale of Anhaga Ballas, a vagrant who, through a series of unfortunate events, finds himself the most wanted man in all of Druine and condemned to death by the Church.
Left with few options, Ballas embarks on a quest to find Belthirran, a mythical land free of the Church’s grasp . . . a land that could offer Ballas sanctuary...
Plot-wise, the book is fairly straightforward throughout with the main character Ballas basically moving from point A to point B, but what the story lacks in complexity is more than compensated for by superb pacing and constant unpredictable twists, especially a few major revelations towards the end.
Aside from the impressive plotting/pacing, the prose is dynamic, the characters convincingly rendered, the dialogue a major strength, and the world-building—though shallow compared to most epic fantasy—is intriguing, most notably the Pilgrim’s Church and the magical race of the Lectivin. In fact, the book as a whole is so well-written that it’s hard to imagine that “Monument” is just a debut.
But what I loved most about the novel was Ballas. Not just a vagrant, Ballas is also a drunkard, incredibly ugly, and willing to do anything immoral—lying, cheating, stealing, killing—as long as it benefits him. In short, Ballas is the ultimate ‘anti-hero’, and one of the most loathsome characters I’ve ever read in a book. . . but also one of the most compelling.
Overall, Ian Graham’s “Monument” is a fantasy novel that captures the grit, darkness and trope-bending of Joe Abercrombie, Richard K. Morgan’s “The Steel Remains”, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy and David Keck, but executed much better. An instant favorite...