Paperback, 560 Pages
Grimdark Fantasy/ Adult
By: Michael Sliter
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 1/4
“My son, ‘ strife befalls us all. A weak man lets it define him, while a strong man lets it expand him.’”
Disclaimer: Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
🌟 The First Law meets Game of Thrones in this great debut for fans of the grimdark fantasy genre! Don’t let the fact that this is self-published fool you, I have discovered many hidden gems in the self-published world and this is definitely one of them!
🌟 I am not good at explaining what books are about so I think it is better to check the synopsis and other reviews for that, all I can say that a civil war is brewing and we get to experience this through four characters!
🌟 Michael’s writing is really good, I think part of the reason why I and other reviewers are intimidated by adult fantasy books is their size and the way they are written. Michael’s writing flowed easily, really gripping (I finished this in 3 days!) and yet the author uses some fancy and lush words that are the cherry on top and make the writing strikes a great balance! English is not my first language so, to be honest, I had to translate a couple of words but that just means my vocabulary expanded and that makes me happy!
“After all, one couldn’t expect a bolt of lightning to strike someone who’d committed an evil deed.”
🌟 This is a character-driven story and that means I have to focus on this in this review. The book is written in 3rd person POV and follows 4 characters: Fenrir, Merigold, Emma Dram (Plus Lady Escamilla) and Hafgan. The majority of the book focuses on Fenrir and Merigold.
🌟 I love when books are not black or white, I am not a big fan of the good guys vs bad guys and chosen one trope! I prefer morally grey characters that have motives beyond their actions, that work to achieve their agendas. This reflects real life, the more you get to know people, the more sides of them you discover.
🌟 A general note is that we spend a good time in the heads of these characters and get to know how they think, and this being written by a psychologist makes this a really strong point writing-wise. (I was studying psychiatry while reading this -by chance- and that made me notice the psychological defense mechanisms that the characters use to explain their actions!)
“My father was a smuggler, and my mother was… well… unhappy that my father was a smuggler. The usual story. She ran. He found her. He killed her. I killed him”
🌟 A little bit about the characters: Fenrir is a criminal who gave me Glokta/ Ninefingers from The First Law series vibes, he is a jerk and not the usual good main character!
Lady Escamilla and Emma were my favorite, they gave me Lady Olenna and Sansa Stark vibes! Lady Escamilla was so sassy and powerful and I just couldn’t resist loving her for that!
Merigold is the nicest girl in the story and she is kind of religious and with the ensuing drama that happens in the book, she probably has the best character development, she also possesses some magical abilities that let her take energy from people.
Hafgan is a Wasmer, he is not human but he is an outsider trying to fit in the community and not succeeding very much at that!
🌟 This book is dark, like really really dark! It goes into discussing many dark topics and I think it did that well. As I said in my review of Ninth House, I am not against discussing these topics, I just think that the should be done in the right context, and think this book succeeded in doing so! I am not going to go into details about them but the book includes Rape and dismemberment and some torturing. I think that readers should go into this while mentally prepared for something heavy. It is still enjoyable but at a certain point, I had lost my faith in humanity (And found out that the third book is called Faith Lost!). Including these themes was cool because it is a good chance to talk about them and remove the stigma surrounding them and because it really helped to flesh the characters out! The darker side of the characters made me question if I really like anyone in the story!
🌟 The book also discusses some ethical and philosophical questions. I like when religion is part of the fantasy world, because as long as there are humans there will be religions and they even share some of the dilemmas we have, apparently religion is universal and the author could discuss it without attacking any religion in the real world!
“We’ve discussed rape, murder and wholesale slaughter. Little cab be darker than that,” said Emma with some sarcasm.
🌟 I am not going to pretend that I am an expert when it comes to adult fantasy because I am still new to the genre, this had slow pacing which I think is usual in this genre. I really did not mind that because I was so absorbed into the story and characters. Part of the pacing was because it is a bit too descriptive but I especially enjoyed the characters’ witty but serious dialogues! I even wanted more of them.
🌟 There are a few things that I would have done differently, the book focuses on 2 characters more than the others and that kind of made them less interesting. I can guarantee that they are all good but some were simply better and more fleshed out. I hope that the next book will focus more on them and help make them more interesting!
🌟 The thing that makes me really excited is that the book kept getting better and the world kept getting expanded! There is magic and war and Gods and all that fantasy fans like and I think it will all get better in the next installments!
“She saw herself in the mirror then, still naked, still bruised, still pale, still sunken, still broken. Still a killer”
🌟 Summary: Solace Lost is a great grimdark fantasy debut that is character-driven, with great writing and important themes. Remember how season one of GoT started by introducing the characters and then it went into dark places and expanded slowly, I think this is almost the same here! I had bad luck with Tetralogies in the past, but if this keeps getting better, I think that this may become my favorite tetralogy in the future!