Fate Lashed by Josh Erikson

Series: Ethereal Earth #2 Rating: 4.5/5
Date of Publishing: February 7th 2019 Genre: fantasy, urban fantasy
Publisher: self-published Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 375 Author’s website: https://josherikson.com/

Quote of the Book

“Trust is a funny thing. We just hand it to some people while making others fight for every scrap. Or we might rip it all away for a minor infraction while letting someone else trample on it again and again. Most of us prefer not to think about it unless we have to, but that’s basically my entire job description.”

Blurb

Some heroes are born, some are made, and some are willing to fake it for the right pay.

Gabe abandoned life as a conman after the disasters in Lincoln, and he managed to carve out a bit of peace with the scraps he had left. Unfortunately, bad guys suck at respecting personal boundaries. So together with Heather and a group of weird new companions, he finds himself shackled to a horrifying cosmic game with sky-high stakes, inscrutable goals, and rules that seem to change every five minutes. And when old gods and monsters resurface to make things so much worse, he's finally forced to admit that he might not be talking his way past any of it.
Fate itself rises to force-feed Gabe a cliché quest, leaving him only to find the artifact, get paid the fortune, and try to make it out alive.
...And, if there's enough time, maybe save the whole stupid world.

Fate Lashed is the sequel to Hero Forged and the second book in the Ethereal Earth series—an ongoing tale about the nightmares we create, those they create for us, and a few people who refuse to take any of it too seriously.

Personal notes

I’ve received the most awesome review request from Josh Erikson in exchange of an honest review. Fate Lashed is the sequel of Hero Forged, FBR’s semi-finalist in SPFBO 4.

Song of the Book

Okay, this is going to be a bit unconventional, but this is so awesome, that I can’t miss this opportunity. This is the coolest thing I’ve ever got and seriously, how could I say no to this?? When he mentioned in his interview that he likes to sing, I jokingly said the surest way to get on the top of my TBR was a song. And he delivered! Here comes the cover of Black Balloon by Goo Goo Dolls:

Review

I buddy read Fate Lashed with Filip Magnus (you might remember him from The Questioning), which was his first – hopefully I didn’t make him regret his life choices – and it made me realise that reading is not necessarily a solitary activity. It’s fun to share your reading experience with someone else, exchanging theories as you go, fangirling/boying about certain characters, making guesses as to who is going to die or stay alive. Also, it can help to understand some things you might didn’t at first, or looking differently at something you might dismissed or completely missed. I should arrange more buddy reads in the future.

Fate Lashed picks things up a few months after the events in Hero Forged. Heather and Gabe decide to seek out a sorcerer who might be able to help them with some answers as well as giving Gabe some lessons. To do that, they need a plan and first of all passports and other official papers. What starts as a simple exchange of money and goodies, turns into an assault on their lives, delivered by a troll. They soon find themselves in the focus of four organisations: the Hags, the Merrywell Clan, the mysterious Phillip we get to know in Hero Forged and Aka Manah who joins his forces with Reznick, the bokor whose life Heather and Gabe pretty much ruined. Each of these organisations have their own agendas, but they all have one goal: to get the Igla which would provide power over the Universe. And thus the race begins.

Heather and Gabe chose their allegiations and create a team to first steal an artifact and then later to decide the fate of the Universe. The team members are: Mutambe, bodyguard of a highly ranked Umbra called Esme, who can see Fate and manipulate it to an extent. He is also a powerful hex with pretty neat tricks in his pockets. Dante, a mythological creature, a huge guy with bigger heart (not talking about intelligence), and a little anger management problem. As well as some personal ones with another team member, Lorelei and her great grandmother Hwei-ru. The latter is also an Umra, friend of Esma, history researcher who only helps the team from afar. Lorelei is her apperentice and a human with no magic abilities. She does however has an onyx ring which helps her see some things humans otherwise couldn’t.

I really liked how the dinamics worked between the teammates, how their personal history played a part in the events and how it affected their relationships with each other. Maybe Mutamber is the only one we don’t learn much about, but he had a great arc with Gabriel, starting from dislike and ending up something like respect.

And since I mentioned Gabriel, of course he is right in the middle of events and the team, somehow keeping it together. He didn’t change much regarding his smart-ass attitude, but I think he had become more observant, maybe? Self preservation was always strong in him, although his relationship with Heather changed him considerably. They form a really good team, complimenting each other. The chemistry is undeniable, and the air always sparks when they are together. They are urban fantasy’s Bonnie & Clyde. Having a constant banter didn’t hurt either and makes it damn amusing to watch as they figure things out.

“Face one golem and an army of ankle-biters, and now you’re King freaking Arthur. I’m sure there’s a crown around here somewhere if oyu want to anoint yourself.”

Fate Lashed is half urban fantasy half adventure, with a bit of Indiana Jones feel to it in places. In the first half I felt that things happened a bit too fast, there was practically no stopping in action, a moment to take a breath and it made it hard for me to really connect with the story. Once they arrived to their destination, I was finally able to really enjoy it – damn I can’t use spoilers, let’s just say that some awesomeness is coming your way. What I really struggled with was fully grasping the motivation of each party (I don’t think we have the good guys vs bad guys scenerio here which is cool, but it’s still a bit confusing to me), and how exactly the Igla can affect things. I clearly enjoyed the book, but there is something that keeps me from absolutely loving it and I don’t really know what. Maybe I struggle to understand the whole cosmic stuff – the Ether, the Great Darkness, the cycle of life thing. Another thing, Erikson throws in quite a few mythical creatures but I’m not entirely sure they were all necessary for the plot. Sometimes I had a feeling they were just there for the fun of it – which is not such a big problem, just felt out of place in some cases.

As for the ending, I had a bit of pacing problem with it, felt a bit overdone and predictable in parts, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t full of emotions. I think the biggest difference between Hero Forged and Fate Lashed was the amount of emotions crammed into it, and the tension all through the story which just exploded in the endgame. But my absolute favorite part – still – was the excerpts from CONscience at the beginning of the chapters. I just love Gabe’s voice and the way he deals with his emotions and the situation at hand. Reding those snippets always make me wish this series was written entirely as a 1st person POV. They give such a great insight into his mind and his relationships – in Hero Forged it was about him and his dad, in Fate Lashed him and Heather. Also he is painfully honest not only about his feelings but the way he sees society, humanity and most of all himself.

“It’s human nature to make snap assumptions when we meet someone for the first time, and it can take an awful lot to undo them enough to see the real person beneath. Not fair, but true.”

Upon reading Fate Lashed I can say that whether Josh Erikson is a talented writer is not a question anymore (if it ever was). Hero Forged was a strong debut and he was able to raise the bar with the second book. Fate Lashed has everything we loved before and then some more: action, intrigue, sarcasm, blood and death. Sprinkled with tiny bit of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and other references for good measure. The Ethereal Earth series is something every urban fantasy lover should read.

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