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‘When the Heavens Fall’ reads a lot like most fantasies do, which is both good and bad. Good because it’s a fun read while you’re at it, interesting and unique enough that you’re enjoying it while you’re in the book. But also disappointing because it really isn’t anything different from what a lot of other fantasy books have to offer. That is, while it clearly has it’s own story, characters, and world, it doesn’t manage to stand out on it’s own. It’s unique but not anything fresh or innovative.
Having said that, I am aware of the fact that this is the author’s debut novel and I do realize it’s only the beginning of a series. So while I made my way through this at a reasonable pace, if I do pick up the next installment in the series, I’m definitely hoping for more excitement. What I can say was more enjoyable was that the author offers more than one perspective in the story. A lot of the other fantasy I’ve read either just follows first person or opt out for third person omniscient. With this one, you get a lot of voices with their own stories so that aspect is a bit more filling in this book than in some other fantasies. At times, I was also reminded somewhat of ‘The Way of Kings,’ but mostly in that we get more than one perspective.
I also enjoyed that we are required to learn about the fantasy world more via conversations and as the story moves along rather than major sections of info-dump where the authors pauses to explain the history of one thing or another. Sanderson does have a habit of dragging things out and while at times ‘When the Heavens Fall’ did slow down for me, I don’t think it necessarily drags at any point.
Because I read this on audiobook, I must also point out that while the narrator—Oliver Wyman—does an excellent job at the voices, the narration of regular passages did seem a tad tedious. It often felt like he was narrating the book with his head down and his voice seemed a bit stifled. I’m speculating about this of course, but I just thought it strange that he does the character voices with such expertise but then I would have so much trouble concentrating on the regular, non-dialogue text. If I had to rate the narration separately, I would give it four stars.
I would recommend this if you’re just looking for an easy fantasy read. If you want something wholly unique and original, this probably doesn’t have a lot which will impress you (especially if you’re a avid fantasy reader). But it’s a good read nonetheless and if I come across the next book in the series, I would love to give it a read.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
The start was somewhat diffused, but once the characters came into focus, the plot was set and story carried me away.
The world is well rendered, the magic systems richly diverse, the main characters fairly complex. The Narrator is one of the best, and did a really good job bringing the characters to life.
When the Heavens Fall is well worth a listen.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
The story is very well written and having four story streams coming together is very complex. On audiobook this many streams makes it difficult to engage with the characters as each stream has a number of characters to keep track of. However after half way the story begins to meld together. The journeys are adventurous but lack an originality some other writers seem to offer (Abercrombie and Martin say) also seeding contemporary cliches jolts the reader out of the plot. Again, others make their own cliches up...? However as a debut novel this part of a series has a lot to commend it. My main suggestion to the author is to make the next more original than the past masters of the genre.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful