We continue reviewing the SPFBO 6 Finalists. Our next one up is Voice of War by Zack Argyle, chosen by Lynn. I’m sitting this one out, because earlier last year we organized a tour for this book via Storytellers On Tour. And since there was money involved, I thought it was best not to take part in the scoring to avoid drama and conflict of interest. So, there will be only three scores for this title.
|Series: Threadlight #1||Genre: Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: March 2020||Publisher: self-published|
While preparing for the birth of his first child, Chrys Valerian is tasked with uncovering the group responsible for a series of missing threadweavers–those able to see and manipulate threadlight. With each failure, the dark voice in his head grows louder, begging to be released.
A young girl from a secret city in the center of the Fairenwild veers off course to explore the streets of Alchea. She never expected that her journey would end in chains.
Far in the deserts to the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.
When Chrys learns who is responsible for the missing threadweavers, they come for him and his family. He must do everything in his power to protect those he loves, even if it means trusting strangers or, worse, the dark voice in his mind.
Together, they will change the world–whether they intend to or not.
Jen – 7.2/10
I won a copy of Voice of War in audio last summer before it made it to the finalist round. I don’t listen to a huge amount of audio but I have to say this reader was fantastic.
Voice of War was a fun story. It had a lot of tropes I enjoy but I especially liked the magic system – which is color-based and for me, fairly unique, since I tend to read outside the mainstream.
Because this story began with Chrys and his team investigating blood thieves and missing people, I was expecting a story more in the vein of Kalanon’s Rising from last SPFBO. But this quickly changed into something a little bigger in scope and gave me some Forgotten Realms kind of vibes with its hidden tree-top city and mysterious monument, that tempts people to use their gifts.
I really liked Chyrs, one of the main characters, and his mother, Willow. I enjoyed the underlying themes of family, and the supportive relationships that we saw with him and his wife, and other friends.
Laurel was touch and go for me, but she is young and shows it in her actions with her disregard to people’s advice, and headstrong ways. She has some growing up to do and I am sure she will get schooled in her attitude at some point.
I am just going to say upfront I am not a fan of late character add-ins except in the odd circumstances, which this does and doesn’t fall into. That said, I completely understand the reason for keeping Alverax until later, it makes sense in the grand scheme of things but I did feel it interrupted the flow, giving the back-end a little bit of a hiccup.
Information was placed strategically to keep you interested, and I was never overwhelmed by it or the magic, so Alverax’s late showing is a small complaint in an otherwise nicely-paced story.
The magic was probably the strongest part of the book for me. I liked how it seemed to tie into the story, propelling it, instead of just being a part of the world. Things could be interesting with the hints of addiction in its use and the whole thing with the Apoge, (I have some thoughts about this) and I am very curious to see where this goes.
Voice of War felt like a set-up for a series of books, and while I didn’t feel like I was left hanging, it’s definitely a jumping-off place to greater things.
Nick – 7.5/10
Voice of War was a fun and fast-paced epic fantasy read that I enjoyed quite a lot. The book begins with a bit of a mystery as magic-born threadweavers are gradually going missing and our main protagonist Chrys Valerian is chosen to find out who or what may be responsible for the disappearances. As he goes about trying to uncover the identity of the culprit(s), he is thrown into a situation that finds himself battling both those who would do him and his family great harm, but also the inner-turmoil of facing his own skeletons, both past and present. We also have two other characters who play a big role in the exciting plot, Laurel and Alverax.
This is the kind of fantasy that reminds me of some of the very first books that I read in the genre and fell in love with. Very straightforward, not a lot of complex concepts or a ton of warring factions that you need to refer back to a ten-page glossary for. In a sense it’s a book that you can just read and enjoy without feeling like you need a companion book to follow along with it. And this is a very GOOD thing in my opinion. I wish more books in the genre would follow this formula and not go the Malazan route in all honesty. Yes there is a place for those types of books, but when every single book that is released seems to mimic that methodology, it can get exhausting.
The world-building is extremely well done and coupled with the mystery of the threadweavers, I thought that it was an effective and fantastical backdrop to this story. Getting back to the central mystery in the book, I love love love when a fantasy book has a strong mystery that drives the plot, and this one is one of the best I have read quite frankly. It kept me turning the pages with anticipation as I yearned to discover who was taking the threadweavers and what ultimately was happening to them.
I really enjoyed Voice of War and it made me immediately want to jump into the sequel. I hope that I get to read that one soon because this was one heck of a debut and I feel like Zack Argyle is just going to continue to get better with each successive book released.
Peter – 9.5/10
So Voice of War by Zack Argyle, I will say now is one of the most enjoyable fantasy novels I have ever read with great characters, a cool magic system, an intricate world and being book 1 in a series: The Threadlight.
This has been one of the best books I have read this year, a real character driven fantasy as well, Zack drops you into the action straightaway with one of the world’s more bizarre religious ceremonies. What I really liked was how the world was driven by the situations the characters find themselves in, no info dump here and this allowed for an excellent reading experience, coupled with Zack’s nice easily accessible writing style.
What a world Zack has created, populated by people who can threadlight. Born with abilities which are dependent on their eye colour allows them certain abilities. This reminded me of some of the cool magic systems found in Brandon Sanderson’s work, and it was rules based as well in that it cost the user something over time and they are limited to what they can do. The world in itself was intriguing as well, the continent of Arasin has recently been embroiled in a conflict. This allows the author to explore the effects, through the POV of Chrys who finds himself afflicted with a…voice, a dangerous voice which has helped him in the past.
What I really like about the story was how it grew out from itself, it started small and grows slowly out as the story develops and we discover more and more. Told from POV of a select group of characters, three to be precise, with guest POVs for some important sections only they could tell. A part of the story that really impressed me was it wasn’t your typical fantasy story, it’s part aftermath, conspiracy and jumping to another POV telling a completely different story for you to puzzle over, I tip my hat to Zack Argyle with this one, he’s written something quite special here and I urge to read if you haven’t yet.
So there you are, one of the best books I have read this year, full of likeable characters, an intriguing world, one brilliant magic system and book 1 in a series that leads you through the story in a skilful way.
|Jen: 7.2||Nick: 7.5||Peter: 9.5||Timy: X|
Our overall rating for Voice of War: 8/10
For more SPFBO content, please visit my SPFBO 6 Finals page!