3.5 / 5 stars
Read in October 2019
Book #1 in the The Age of Darkness trilogy
Surprisingly, after finishing Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy, I chose to read Katy Rose Pool’s multi-character 3rd person PoV book before diving into Six of Crows (this definitely does not have anything to do with the fact that I left my SoC books at my parents’ house across the country…).
The Age of Darkness approaches, and five lives are set on a trajectory on which they will ultimately collide to either save the world – or destroy it. Their stories converge against the backdrop of the rise of a radical group with a mysterious leader determined to purge the land of all magic.
It took me about 200 or so pages to feel truly invested in TWCaD, but don’t let that deter you; Pool handles the PoV jumps well, which keeps the five storylines engaging as you get to know the characters leading up to the action. Each time two or more of our heroes came together, I was practically cheering – who doesn’t love when their faves collide on page?
From his first PoV chapter, sarcastic, fragile, lovable Anton stole my heart, a beautiful cinnamon roll too good, too pure for this world. However, each MC’s unique personality and circumstances mean you can’t go wrong choosing any one of them as your favorite. And if you’re a AtLA/LoK fan this story’s main villain, The Hierophant, is definitely for you.
The world of the Pelagos is based on ancient societies of the Mediterranean, a refreshing setting which Pool uses to create interesting and distinct cultures and characters.
However, with this diverse foundation of ancient civilizations to pull from, I found it surprising that Pool did not give our MCs and their cultures their own distinct languages. This isn’t to say that I wanted her to create brand new languages, but it would have enriched the worldbuilding if from Jude’s PoV, for example, Hassan had a Herati (Egyptian) accent, and Anton had a Novogardian (Russian) accent. Or, she could have specified that Hassan spoke Herati with Khepri, but switched to Pallasian (Greek) with Jude.
Also, this world had trains, which confused me as none of their other technology seemed nearly as advanced?
Pool’s writing had its novice moments, with some phrases coming off as anachronistic in a fantasy world based on antiquity; however, there were definitely moments that pulled at my heartstrings, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she progresses as a writer in this series and beyond.
Spoiler-filled thoughts continued below…
Anton. Anton. Anton. I wanted to give him a big hug. As I mentioned, he was my favorite from the start. From the moment the prophecy mentioned the Grace of Sight, I knew that Anton would ultimately be the Last Prophet. Otherwise, from a storytelling perspective, it would have been surprising if Pool gave two of our five MCs the same Grace. I predict that Hassan will end up having the Grace of Mind, rounding out the four Graces in our heroes with Ephyra, Anton, and Jude.
Anton x Jude. I found myself constantly hoping that the next chapter would be from Anton’s PoV, and wishing that he and Jude would meet. And whenever he and Jude crossed paths, their eshas calling out to one another? Major heart eyes. I was definitely cheering out loud.
Warm peat-dark eyes blinked down at him from beneath unkempt sand-colored hair. Faint freckles dotted a narrow nose and pale cheeks. Jude wondered if he should count them.
From how Pool wrote about them, I could tell that she definitely shipped Anton and Jude as well. I can’t wait until they’ve fallen head over heels for each other!
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same chemistry with Hassan and Khepri. Their relationship gave me insta-love vibes and felt forced. Frankly, I found that I didn’t really care whether they fell in love. I was more interested in Hassan figuring out a way to return home and save his parents, with or without Khepri’s help.
I also would’ve liked to have seen more romantic tension in Jude and Hector‘s relationship. This would have heightened the stakes even more around Jude’s decision to abandon his sacred duty to go after Hector – a decision Jude seemed to completely forget about in the last quarter or so of the book?
I don’t even think Jude mentioned Hector at all in his last few PoV chapters. In the end, he felt his duty was to protect Anton – but suddenly forgetting about the man he’d loved for years, a man whom Jude would have to put to death himself if he didn’t bring him back? Jude’s feelings toward Hector were a major catalyst in his decision-making process, and they completely disappeared at the end of the story.
Lastly, I enjoyed the relationship between our sister duo, Ephyra and Beru. They were devoted to one another in a sweet, believable way that made me reflect on my own relationship with my sister. I appreciated that their stories focused on their sisterly bond rather than introducing any romantic love interests, and I hope that ultimately they forgive themselves and each other.
I would love to know your thoughts and more importantly would love to discuss this book with you as I wait (im)patiently for the sequel!