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Sunday, June 25, 2017

RE-REVIEW: The Price Of Faith by Rob J. Hayes (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)




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. The Ties That Bind trilogy is his debut.

OFFICIAL BLURB: NOT EVERYONE HAS A DESTINY.

Separated and miserable, Thanquil Darkheart and Jezzet Vel’urn both have their reasons for wanting to leave the Dragon Empire. Jezzet flees from the wrathful fury of an Empress scorned while accompanied by the ever insidious Drake Morrass and Thanquil sets out to find and judge his one heretical loose end...

FORMAT/INFO: The Price Of Faith is divided into five sections with forty-six POV chapters and an epilogue. The narration is in third person via Arbiter Thanquil Darkheart, Jezzet, Betrim Thorn aka The Black Thorn, Jacob Lee, Pern Suzku the Haarin, and Anders. This is the final volume of The Ties That Bind trilogy.

June 21, 2017 marks the worldwide e-book re-release of The Price Of Faith and it was self-published by the author. Cover art is by Alex Raspad, cover design was by Shawn King.

CLASSIFICATION: The Ties that Bind is a dark fantasy trilogy with terrific characterization and a twisted plot that is very reminiscent of the works by Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch.

ANALYSIS: This book has been re-released by the author after he got his rights back from Ragnarok Publications and readers can read more about that in this interview and over on the author's site. I'm reposting my review with a few edits and to espouse the brand, new cover and re-release of the entire trilogy. I've been a big fan of Rob J. Hayes since I first got my hands on his debut book The Heresy Within. However it was The Colour Of Vengeance, which simply blew my mind and convinced me of the awesomeness of this trilogy and the author. With this book, I was waiting to see how the author would end his trilogy. This volume also featured the return of Jezzet and Thanquil who were conspicuously missing from the second volume. A warning to readers, I'lll be discussing certain things which can be considered spoilers for the preceding titles so be forewarned.

The Price Of Faith begins once again with Thanquil who now finds him being hunted. His prey now has turned predator and the witch stalks Thanquil in his dreams as well as the awakened stage. Thanquil is still bitter about his parting with Jezzet who now finds herself as the court of the Dragon Empire and a friend to the Dragon Empress. A stranger in a strange land, Jezzet finds herself drawn to the weird customs and a certain dark and dangerous pirate who also happens to be the paramour of the Dragon Empress. Drake Morass is feared by everyone and for good reason. His antics in Chade haven’t gone unnoticed however he has a bigger game in mind.

Lastly there’s Betrim “Black Thorn” Thorne who now finds himself as the head of a new crew of deadly misfits and a drunken sot named Anders. Betrim still hungers for revenge for the events that befell him at the end of the first book and just maybe he might find the person who bested him. However can the Black Thorn best those far deadlier than him and his crew. These are the many questions posed in this final volume. However this story is about our three leads introduced in the first book, they all have changed. Jezzet was a killer however by the end of the first book became a true blademaster. Betrim was a scoundrel and murderer however he became a deadlier leader and now leads the motley crew of Henry, Pern, Ben Six Cities, Anders and Riley. This third volume is about the change that befalls Thanquil. We get to learn how he acquired the sobriquet of Darkheart that has followed him around since his initiations as an arbiter. We get to see what really happened in his childhood and how he was “saved” by Arbiter Prin.

We get to see his connection with the Templar Jacob Lee as well learn why the Emperor chose him for the furtive mission. All of this and more is laid bare, in this ending volume. As is the case with the preceding two volumes, characterization once again is the author’s forte. We get all our main POV characters back however once again it’s the side character cast who make the read that much more rewarding. Last time around we got to know Henry, Pern and Anders and while they are back, it’s pirate captain Drake Morass who steals the show every time he graces the pages. Oozing menace and charm in equal measure; Drake Morass is a charmer who is poison to those he opposes.

He however also steals scenes whenever he appears and confounds our POV characters as much as he does the readers. I believe the author is setting him up for something pivotal in the future and he will be playing a major role in the books to come. Not that he doesn’t play any less of a significant one in this one as well. The action sequences are no less exciting than the preceding volume, however this time around; there are pirates, dragons and demons involved. All the threads introduced so far come to an exciting, action-filled climax which answers some pretty fundamental questions about the nature of reality of the world, the aspect of calling upon a god’s power and also concept of avatar-hood.

All the characters from the previous two volumes make an appearance (at least the ones left alive) and there are a few new ones to hook the reader’s interest. There’s also the character arc, with this book it’s Thanquil who gets the treatment and we get a peek into his madness. This book makes him even more sympathetic and a little crazy. He’s been pushed to the end of his wits due to the fact that Jezzet is somewhere and needs his help. Thanquil’s background and powers are laid bare and as a reader it was good to read what makes such a complex character tick.

Going on to the drawbacks of the book, one factor going against is that not all threads are completely closed. In fact the epilogue alone puts a whole new spin on the entire story that has happened within the space of three books. Also there’s the aspect of character deaths and particularly a couple of characters meet untimely ends. This on a whole kept the story exciting however on a personal note, I was just saddened by it. Lastly the only other thing that might cause heartache for readers is the fact there’s a resolution provided but that might not be what they expect. To some it might be underwhelming in a way. I think that was the author’s intent to undercut expectations and it will be up to each reader to gauge how successful the author was.

CONCLUSION: The Price Of Faith brings to an explosive end to a trilogy that while being self-published can be safely considered as a superb dark fantasy trilogy. It will have its detractors but the fans outnumber them sharply. The Price Of Faith is indeed about the faith that the characters have invested and the price it extracts when their conventions are challenged. Simply put this is a fantastic end to a great trilogy and a terrific beginning to Rob J. Hayes’ career.

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