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Friday, September 25, 2015

"Rules of Ascension: Winds of the Forelands Book 1" by David B. Coe (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit David B. Coe's Official Site Here

OVERVIEW: For 900 years, since the Qirsi War, the Forelands have enjoyed relative peace. The Qirsi leaders, Weavers whose powerful magic could bend to their will not only the elements but also the thoughts of others, were all killed. The rest of the pale-skinned Qirsi were scattered throughout the realm. They were no longer a threat without their multi-talented leaders.

But though most Qirsi live normal lives, and some even serve lords as advisors, all is not well in the realm. There is a Weaver in the Forelands again, secretly sowing seeds of rebellion against the physically hardier but unmagical Eandi.

Lord Tavis of Curgh, raised to succeed his father as duke, and engaged to the beautiful Lady Brienne of Kentigern, seems bound for greatness. But just as his life seems complete, he is accused of a horrific act. Little can Tavis know that the Weaver is using him as a pawn in a vast plot.

Now, only a Qirsi gleaner can help Tavis survive his doom, reclaim his good name, and prevent a devastating civil war in the Forelands.

FORMAT: Rules of Ascension is the first book in the Winds of the Forelands quartet. It is a high fantasy novel that contains elements of political intrigue, magic, a murder mystery, conspiracies, a little romance, and some battles.

Rules of Ascension was first published in 2002 by Tor Books. It stands at 672 pages.

ANALYSIS: Sometimes we get so caught up in reading and reviewing newly released books that some oldie but goodies get overlooked. These classic fantasy novels tend to be pushed to the back burner because everyone thinks that they should have already read them and know about them.

Every year I try to make an effort to read some of the "older" fantasy and sci-fi novels. I have been reluctant to review them based off of their publication dates, but I want to share my love and enthusiasm for some of these novels. As long as the book is available in some format for purchase, I will highlight it.

I am featuring David B. Coe's Rules of Ascension novel as the first novel in this featurette. Rules of Ascension is the first novel in the epic fantasy series Winds of the Forelands. This first novel starts the series off with a bang. There is pretty much everything in here that you could imagine – political intrigue, who-done-it murder mystery, conspiracies, warring kingdoms, evil villains, magic, and detailed, relatable characters. There is even a small smidgen of battles and fight scenes thrown in, but not too much.

Rules of Ascension, for me, started off slowly. It wasn't a painfully slow pace, but Coe definitely takes his time developing not only the world in which we are a part of, but the characters that are involved with the story. I never got to a point where I wanted to give up on the novel, but if you are looking for a series that immediately starts off running; this is probably not the novel for you.

It wasn't until maybe the 25% mark that things really started picking up. Once I was comfortable with the world, understood a bit about the magic, and there was a solid plot established, the novel just seemed to fly right on by. I was easily able to read 100 to 120 pages in one sitting and when I had to stop, I just wanted to jump back into the novel and see what was happening.

There are two major things that made Rules of Ascension stand out to me. First, was the complex nature of the characters. Every character was extremely detailed. They have their own quirks, their own powers, and their own agenda regarding certain things. Of course, the bad guys appear evil, but there are layers to them and they aren't just doing things because they are bad.

The detailed nature of the characters really helped to draw readers into the story. No one was back or white, good or bad. There were shades of gray. I enjoyed this aspect because it made it more lifelike. I was able to feel like I knew these characters their entire life and wasn't just being thrown an abridged version of who they are and how they react to certain things.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the amount of detail Coe goes into regarding the history of the land and even the people who live in that land. Things weren't just dumped on readers with a 'here accept it' mentality. We were guided through important aspects of history and explained how and why things were happened.

That being said, the history parts didn't seem like they were info dumps. Yes, there is a lot to learn about everything, but it wasn't presented in long, drawn out ways that would bore you. It was more of a fun, learn while action is going on type format. In my experience, that made it a win-win.

Even though I absolutely adored Rules of Ascension, there were a few things that could make it a confusing read for some readers. The major problem would be with the amount of characters involved. There are dozens of different characters throughout the novel that we – the readers – encounter. This could easily become overwhelming for some individuals because you aren't just following Character A or Character B, but you are following a ton of other people who all play major and minor roles in the plot.

It becomes easier to follow who characters are and what they are doing as the novel goes on, and you become more familiar with the characters. But it could be a bit disorienting at first. If you can hold on, you are in for a definite treat. And it does get easier. Ideally, an index or something would be helpful to help readers, but I understand why that is not possible.

Overall, I loved Rules of Ascension, even more than I really thought I would. Once I hit a groove with the novel, it was smooth sailing and I hated having to put the book down for any reason. I really feel this is an overlooked series – at least from the first book. If the other books are anywhere near as good as this one, it will quickly become one of my top favorite series in fantasy.  


irradiated_pig said...

Thanks for reviewing oldies but goodies. I'm going to buy this because you reviewed it.

Cindy said...

Thank you for the wonderful comment. Look for more oldie but goodie reviews coming up. I'm hoping to review them every 2 to 3 weeks. And of course I'll be covering the rest of this series too :)

Feel free to stop by once you have read it!

egie asemota said...

I spied this title on Thriftbooks after a recent purchase. I needed to find a review and yours was the first one i saw. Thank goodness! All the pros you listed about this book i.e multifaceted characterization, great lore and world-building, political intrigue and machinations, and action. I love each of these tropes! Definitely gonna buy it and the series as a whole. There was not much mention of the magic system though.

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