Thursday, 4 February 2016

'The Pagan Night', by Tim Akers

Title: The Pagan Night (The Hallowed War #1)
Author(s): Tim Akers
Release Date: 19th January 2016
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Source: Publisher

The Celestial Church has all but eliminated the old pagan ways, ruling the people with an iron hand. Demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the warriors of the Inquisition, yet it’s the battling factions within the Church and age-old hatreds between north and south that tear the land apart.

Malcolm Blakley, hero of the Reaver War, seeks to end the conflict between men, yet it will fall to his son, Ian, and the huntress Gwen Adair to stop the killing before it tears the land apart. The Pagan Night is an epic of mad gods, inquisitor priests, holy knights bound to hunt and kill, and noble houses fighting battles of politics, prejudice, and power.


This book really caught me by surprise. I had no expectations going in so I was completely open to embarking on an epic adventure, but I had no idea I would end up loving it as much as I did.

While the fantasy genre is one of my favorites to read, I very rarely pick up epic fantasy series; they are always such a big time commitment and usually by the time I find out about an amazing series in the genre there's already so many books out that I look at the amount of pages I would have to read to catch up and sadly don't get enough motivation (or time) to get into it.

Seeing as this is the first installment in a new trilogy, I had the perfect opportunity to be ahead of the curve for once, and let me tell you, it was worth every minute!

Being the genre that it is the story alternates between quite a lot of different points of view, and that for me is usually challenging since I need some time to memorize character names and keep up with who is who. Due to that the first 100 pages or so felt like the slowest of the book, as I got to familiarize myself with this new world, its mythology and all of the players within it.

If you are already an expert reader of epic fantasy this will probably not be a problem for you, but do take your time in the beginning to really understand it if, like me, you are not so accustomed to this kind of storytelling.

Once I settled into the story, I really started appreciating all of its different aspects. The world-building felt really original and it will definitely appeal to history lovers, as you will notice some similarities to actual moments of religious change in our past. I am probably biased since I live in Scotland, and I have no idea if this was an intentional parallel drawn by the author, but I kept thinking back to the time when England and Scotland were at war in the 1600's, since in this book the big dichotomy is also between the North and the South and one religion replacing the other.

Character wise, taking into account how big the cast of this story is, they all felt like fully characterized, round people. You really get to know all the people that have an important part to play in the story while not having to go through chunks of info dumps to do it. They reveal themselves throughout the book with their actions, which allows the reader to establish a meaningful connection.

One of the things that surprised me the most about this book was how funny it was. Considering how the story starts with I don't even know how many deaths and someone getting all of their organs removed from their body, I was expecting the story to keep a darker tone throughout, but there are small moments of comedic relief brought in by the characters (especially Malcolm. Everything out of his mouth is gold!) without it feeling out of place or removing any of the seriousness of the plot and the issues at hand. That balance must not be easy to achieve successfully and here there was not one moment where I thought it failed.

While this is not a Young Adult book (there is plenty of gore and strong language throughout if you are considering picking it up and are a reader in that age bracket) the two youngest main characters, Ian and Gwen, do open that door for it to be relatable to a younger audience. Ian is struggling with trying to fill the shoes of his father and learning the ropes of what it means to be a Lord of the North, while Gwen also has the importance of the role of being a Huntress on her shoulders, along with keeping a secret that can get her whole family killed.

Perfect for the history buffs and fans of Game of Thrones, this book has it all. Add it to your reading list because you definitely won't want to miss out on this epic adventure!

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