I have seldom encountered a book of this size with such a fluid rhythm throughout. I found the worldbuilding quite interesting.
All reviews for: The Ascendants of Estorea
Instead of the traditional medieval setting, Barclay's backdrop resembles the Roman Empire. The Estorean Conquord has stood for over years and it continues to expand. Yet when the Advocate sends her forces to conquer the Kingdom of Tsard, unexpected developments might bring the empire to ruin. The characterization is an aspect which is at time satisfactory, but which leaves a little to be desired in some instances. For a tale of such proportions, James Barclay elected to tell his story through the eyes of a relatively small cast of characters.
The upside of that is that it allows him to keep a tight rein on how everything unfolds.
The Cry of the Newborn (Ascendants of Estorea, book 1) by James Barclay
Barclay also deserves kudos for making a taxman one of the most engaging characters of all! As for the Ascendants, I found Arducius and Ossacer to be more three-dimensional than their two counterparts. Mirron was too emotional there's only so much weeping one can take and a bit on the lame side. As expected, readers can immediately tell that Gorian will turn to the dark side.
You can feel it coming from a mile away. But Barclay demonstrates that he has more than a few tricks up his sleeves, and he took me by complete surprise when the time came. All in all, I found the various storylines refreshing.
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The setting alone sets The Ascendants of Estorea apart from the slew of formulaic fantasy series on the market today. Barclay intrigued me from the start with the Ascendency Echelon -- a secret breeding program not unlike that of the Bene Gesserit aspiring to create human beings capable of manipulating the elements and do God's work on earth. But the very notion is considered heresy by the Order of the Omniscient, and everyone in Westfallen would burn at the stake should the religious order ever discover what has been transpiring in that small town for generations.
The Tsardon campaign engenders enough military battles to satisfy even the most demanding action fans. Personally, I thought there was a bit too much action at the end, yet I must admit that it makes for an explosive climax. James Barclay's Cry of the Newborn is an ambitious and well-executed work of epic fantasy.
And the best thing is that it's available in paperback.
Cry of the Newborn: The Ascendants of Estorea Book 1 (Gollancz S.F.)
Even better, its sequel and the final volume of this duology, Shout for the Dead , is already available in hardback and trade paperback , so you don't have to wait for years to discover how it all ends! James Barclay James Barclay is the author of the Chronicles of the Raven and Legends of the Raven series, which have sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
James Barclay lives in Teddington with his wife and two children. Books by James Barclay. Left loading See all books.
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