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Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Northern Sunrise by Rob J. Hayes (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE (US) and HERE (UK)
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Heresy Within
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Colour Of Vengeance
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Rob J. Hayes

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rob J. Hayes was born and brought up in Basingstoke, UK. As a child he was fascinated with Lego, Star Wars and Transformers that fueled his imagination and he spent quite a bit of his growing up years playing around with such. He began writing at the age of fourteen however soon discovered the fallacies of his work. After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey. Rob lived on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy. 

OFFICIAL BLURB: The Northern Sunrise is a standalone book by the author of The Ties that Bind trilogy. Set in a new world of corruption, deceit and thievery; mixing magical fantasy and alchemy-punk with a healthy smattering of airshippery.

"There comes a point in every thief's life where one has to take stock of all that they have achieved. We have stolen almost everything there is worth stealing: Prince Henri's Jadefire ring, the Marquisse d'Bola's collection of prized toy soldiers, Elize Gion's Living Autumn, the very first airship schematic, and who could forget we definitely made off with Baron Rivette's pride."

"The trick, I find, is not to break in. No. The trick is to convince the mark to invite you in." 

FORMAT/INFO: The Northern Sunrise is divided into twenty-five chapters and an epilogue. The narration is in third person via Isabel de Rosier, Jacques Revou, Shadow concieller Renard Daron, and Amaury Roche. This is a standalone story.

March 19, 2014 marked the US and UK e-book publication of The Northern Sunrise and was self-published by the author.

ANALYSIS: After reading Rob J. Hayes’ debut effort, I was suitably impressed. With this tale being a standalone and specifically not related to his previous trilogy, I was wondering how this effort would turn out be.

Isabel de Rosier and Jacques Revou are two consummate thieves who have accomplished several different sorts of heists and larceny. Their most recent efforts have them squarely in the sights of Renard Daron, the shadow conceiller to the king of Sassaille. Isabel and Jacques are forced into a final job for Renard Daron and fiercely watched by Daron's two deadly shadows Franseza Goy & Amaury Roche. Going into a job blind, has never been their sort of thing but with all their bank accounts frozen and with not a single penny to their name. Isabel and Jacques must learn to dance to the shadow conceiller's tune however they are not without their own tricks.

This was a very different offering from the author’s debut, and I’m glad for that very reason. So often authors tend to repeat what they have done before and they run the risk of being labeled as one-trick ponies. Rob J. Hayes certainly bucks that trend with this standalone tale about thieves coerced into working with a spymaster for his own nefarious ends. Also this story is a far cry from his previous work which made most grimdark stories look like YA ones.

As with the previous books, the characters are what make this story so enjoyable, beginning with our main characters, who are quite an adorable duo. They keep the story from getting too dreary and also keep the reader entertained. Another plus point is that the author makes their voices distinct so as to not confuse them. Also with the other POV characters, they are quite individualistic and also make the story that much more intriguing. Ultimately this story is about wills and the deception that people engage in. With Isabel and Jacques, it’s all about their skills in fooling people into believing whatever they want them to. With Daron, it’s basically about the kingdom and its needs, however what Daron thinks what’s best for the kingdom might not be entirely correct.

Amaury and Franseza aren’t given that much space but their motivations and instincts are quite clear to discern. The story is quite fast paced and has a reasonable amount of twists that will keep the readers wanting to know how it will all end. A trick the author utilizes is the use of flashbacks before the start of the chapters, which further help in fleshing out the story and the characters. Another plus point is that the world setting which includes air ships, guns and a remarkable type of creature that the readers will have to find out more on their own. The world technology level is set about a pre-industrial level and the characters and world seems to be based on French culture which is a slightly refreshing change from the usual British one.

I thought this book was a fun read that offered some remarkable twists and ended the tale on a strong note. The ending however also lends to a sequel should the author ever want to revisit the world but the ending I must say is a proper one and the story can be considered complete. In the age of numerous series, it’s very refreshing to see a proper standalone story and in this case, it was good to see a different story from an author whom I have very high expectations for.

CONCLUSION: The Northern Sunrise by Rob J. Hayes is a surprisingly fun thriller even though it deals with deception, spy craft and other dastardly activities. Rob J. Hayes certainly is his own writer and know how to buck reader expectations and give a story which while different is no less a pageturner.


Rob Pealing said...

I have just finished reading this and thoroughly enjoyed it. The main two characters are likeable and amusing. If you like steampunk I suggest you read it.


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