Book Review: Fall of Thanes, by Brian Ruckley

Fall of Thanes is the third installment of the Godless World trilogy, written by Brian Ruckley. If you haven’t read the first two, you’re missing out. Grab Winterbirth, and Bloodheir first. They’re worth the read.

Fall of ThanesFrom the publisher:

The True Bloods are in disarray, their alliance crumbling and their armies humbled by the forces of the Black Road. Aeglyss, falling ever deeper into madness, casts a shadow across all. At the court of the High Thane, Anyara faces a savage struggle for survival against the na’kyrim’s possessed agent: Mordyn Jerain, the Shadowhand.

In the Glas Valley, Kanin, the embittered Horin-Gyre Thane, plots a desperate rising against the halfbreed. But ultimately it will be Orisian, Thane of a Blood that no longer exists, who must stand face to face with a darkly transcendent Aeglyss and make the sacrifice – of himself and others – required to end the threat he represents.

FALL OF THANES is the spectacular conclusion to the Godless World trilogy, a sweeping epic of war, politics and empire.

After finishing this book, I put it down and said, “Wow!” That was my initial reaction. So simple, yet so accurate.

Fall of Thanes is the natural, and enjoyable, conclusion to the Godless World trilogy. What I mean by that is Mr. Ruckley does a wonderful job building upon the solid foundation of his previous two books and taking readers to the logical ending they should expect. That’s not to say he doesn’t throw a few surprises in there for good measure, because he does…in a good way. All of the characters we have come to know and love/hate are back. They all push toward the final endgame. And push they must because they are each at the end of their ropes.

I want to be clear about something. Many other readers complain about the bleakness of this book. To those readers I say why wouldn’t it be? This is a world at war. Friends, family, and fellow soldiers are dying every day. Add to that the influence of a certain na’kyrim, who fills their hearts with dread and their heads with sorrow and fear, and you have a recipe for an often bleak and bloody war. It’s not like Mr. Ruckley doesn’t give his characters a spark of hope, because he does. If the world was totally bleak, everyone would just give up. War is hardly happy, fun, or anything other than a duty. I know, I’ve been there. Everything can’t be rainbows and roses.

We’re talking about a world at war. Not a town, city, or village, but an entire world. It affects everyone. Anyone expecting anything else has only themselves to blame.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Ruckley does a fantastic job showing us how the burdens of war affect each character, the sacrifices they make. He even shows us what keeps them going when most folks would curl up in a ball and give up. The bleakness of this world at war almost becomes a living, breathing thing of its own. And I loved that aspect of this story. It felt like something different from the genre norm, a welcomed change of pace.

It felt like Mr. Ruckley found his stride with this book. The writing felt crisper, the characters more three dimensional, and the action…well, the action has always been visceral and top-notch. His characters, while always good, really came alive in this final book. He tugged on all the right heartstrings and the ending is a real tearjerker. I wanted these characters to succeed, even those who weren’t the typical “good guys”–even when, deep down, I knew not everyone would make it out alive. By the last hundred pages, I didn’t stop reading for anything. Sorry, bladder, I had to see how the story played out.

I will definitely read this book, along with the other two, again. This series will be a staple in my personal library for years to come. I’ll gladly read about these characters and this world again, and again. Being such a picky reader, that’s high praise from someone like me. Mr. Ruckley’s writing makes me want to become a better writer. It’s inspiring. He’s gained a fan for life.

What I liked:

  • The world feels vast, but not too vast to follow along.
  • The atmosphere feels like a world at war. It’s bleak, just the way it should be.
  • The characters really come alive in Fall of Thanes. Each one shines, even the antagonists.
  • People die. Sometimes they die spectacularly. The action is superb.
  • The author finds the right balance of action, description, and character insight, grabbing the reader by the heartstrings and never letting go. You’ll be turning the pages through the night and into the wee hours of the morning.
  • No character is safe from death, keeping readers on their toes.
  • Each plotline is satisfactorily resolved by the end of this book.
  • The women are still just as strong as the men, and just as important to the story. No damsels in distress here.
  • The stakes are high and readers easily believe what will happen if these characters fail.
  • This book builds upon the previous two and surpasses them in every way imaginable. Fantastic read.
  • The ending will make you weepy eyed. Very well done.

What I didn’t like:

  • I thought long and hard about anything I possibly didn’t like and came up with nothing. This book met, or exceeded my every expectation. I take it back, I didn’t like that it was over. I want more!

Overall: You’re still here? I thought you’d be starting this trilogy. Seriously, if you like quality Fantasy, then you need to read these books. I’m giving Fall of Thanes five out of five stars. What seemed to plague the first two books is absent in the third, making a much smoother read. I can’t talk enough about the fully realized female characters in Mr. Ruckley’s world. The women brought just as much to the table as the men, sometimes (in Shraeve’s case) even more. These characters and world will stay with me for years to come. I’m so happy to have stumbled onto Winterbirth, the Godless World trilogy, and Brian Ruckley. I can’t recommend this book, and trilogy, enough. Pick them up today and get reading. If there’s ever anything else set in this world, count me in. I’ll be there with bells on!

You can find Brian Ruckley here:


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