(2016) Ian Irvine, Orbit, £13.99 trdpbk, xi + 577pp, ISBN 978-0-356-50520-6
In the last decade, the Epic Fantasy genre has grown from strength to strength. It has slowly gained popularity to the extent of becoming a mainstream book genre. There have been many new authors appearing within the last five years who have managed to cling onto this popularity. However, a few authors have slipped under the radar and arenít experiencing the exposure that other authors are experiencing. Ian Irvine is a clear example of this. All his novels have received critical acclaim and his multiple series set in the world of the 'Three World Cycle' have sold over one million copies. However, many epic fantasy fans within the UK are just not aware of this much underappreciated author. This is likely to change with the release of this, his new book The Summon Stone, which is the first book in the Gates of Good and Evil series and is set in his 'Three World Cycle' universe.
This novel has received a great deal of attention in the UK, and upon reading it has become clear why this is the case. Ian Irvineís stories are tales of betrayal, loss and love all whilst telling a thrilling adventure. This story follows the awakening of the Merdrun summon stone, which is capable of corrupting everything, which leads to some interesting and unexpected plot developments. However, it needs to be destroyed before the Merdrun return from exile and wreak havoc. This novel centres on Karen and Llian, characters from Irvineís previous novels whose daughter is now the focus for incredible danger.
Without trying to give too much away about the past novels in the series, 'The Three Worlds Cycle' follows the three planets of Aachan, Santhenar and Tallallame. In particular, this story follows the characters from The View from the Mirror Quarter, Ian Irvines first series set in these worlds. Each of his series have followed certain characters, and it is great to see a revisit to his earlier characters.
Ian Irvine has done a good job of continuing his 'Three Worlds Cycle' whilst allowing for a jumping on point for new fans. However, to gain the full enjoyment and understanding of the characters, it is easier to start from beginning of Irvineís work. The novel is well written and paced. However, this series is ideal for adults and teenagers, and it is clear from the writing that the author aims to follow a simpler style of writing than other popular epic fantasy series. If you are a fan of epic fantasy that enjoys the more simple stories that get straight to the point without the vivid detail, this novel may well be a suitable read for you. But upon reading, some fans may find that they want the further detail to allow for a better understanding of the world and the characters motivations. There are a few twists within the novel which are unexpected and there are some more original elements that other fantasy novels fail to contain, which makes the novel a fun read.
This novel is a great start to a new series, but the long history of books before this may turn some readers off from reading it. It is a faithful and great continuation of the story, but the lack of detail may be confusing to new readers. Ian Irvine is slowly becoming a more high profile writer within the epic fantasy genre, and British fans are likely to jump on board with this new series. A fun epic fantasy read with enough twists and originality to keep fans entertained.
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