A little later than planned, I am delighted to be sharing my review for Voice of War by Zack Argyle, a finalist in SPFBO 6. This is the first book in the Threadlight series, with the second book – Stones of Light due for release in April (and you can check out the Cover Reveal for the second book – Stones of Light: Here).
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.
Voice of War was a book that I had been meaning to read for ages, and I am so glad that I bumped it up the TBR because it was a such a fantastic read, that I ended up staying up all night to finish it. This was a book that I’d seen talked about a fair bit but had managed to avoid any spoilers for, which meant that I got to discover everything about this book for myself and what I found was a fantastic character-driven story, with a unique world, a fascinating magic system, with an accessible and entertaining writing style.
And just look at that cover!
Okay, to start with this book immediately gains a bonus point because there is a rather lovely map at the beginning, and my inner geography nerd just loves maps (plus I’ve been doing a lot of map stuff lately, so this one had me smiling). Even better, the map was just a precursor to the rich and varied world that Argyle has created here, from the varied locations of the main city to the deserts of Silkar to the lush forests of Fairenwild, we got to see so much of this world while being left with the wonderful feeling that there is more to discover and explore in the next book. I also absolutely adored Zedalum, not just the idea of a city in the forest tops, but also all the adaptions big and small that the Zeda had made for life in the trees, I would have happily read an entire book set in that city – although then I would have missed out on the rest of the world. I also enjoyed how the world unfurled as the story progressed, discovering new aspects of the world, as the characters and situation carried us along.
Then there was the ‘magic’ system, which was frankly beautiful to imagine, just the idea of Threadlight weaving through the air. Threadweaving was a fascinating, and well-developed magical system, with enough rules to keep it consistent at its core, even as the system expanded later in the book, but not enough to take the wonder out of the idea of it. I particularly liked the idea that the ability that Threadweavers had was dependent on their eye colour, which is not only a cool idea but also gave a wonderful visual cue when encountering magic users. Another aspect I liked and something I really do appreciate in magic systems is that it wasn’t without cost and that there was an element of risk to those who were set apart by this ‘talent’. Since reading Voice of War, I’ve seen some comparisons of Threadlight to other magic systems, but as I am not familiar with those, I got to enjoy the idea of Threadlight and Threadweaving completely in its own right, and I loved it. I also love that not everything is known about Threadlight and Threadweavers, and again that feeling of more to come, and I can’t wait to find out more.
However, as much as I love the world and magic, this is very much a character-driven fantasy and what a cast of characters! Also, something that Argyle has done that you don’t tend to see enough of in fantasy is focus on family and familial bonds, and they’re central to so many of the storylines that you can’t miss them, and I enjoyed getting to see that aspect of the characters.
There is a rich, but not overwhelming cast, although there are a few of the secondary characters that I hope that we get to see more of in the future and learn more about, especially Laz and Reina. I also want to see more of Willow, whose story was only just unfolding towards the latter part of the book.
Of the three main POV characters, I’m torn between Chrys and Laurel as my favourites, as they both bring different voices and experiences to the story. I think Chrys has the edge because he was just so easy to emphasize with, a man torn between duty to his job and Lord, and to his family, and the future of his son. He was a well-developed, complex character, and I was definitely rooting for him all the way through, and there is the added element of the mystery of the Apogee – a remnant of the war that Chrys had been instrumental in winning – a voice that is both a constant threat, but also the promise of something more and I can’t wait to see where that thread goes in the future. Laurel took a little longer to get used to, and she had some rough edges, but then she was a lot younger, a teenager who wasn’t sure of her path or place in her world, and that roughness and rebelliousness was a perfect representation of that and well balanced with her quieter moments. Alverax has a lot of potential, and I really enjoyed what we did see of him, but we spent the least amount of time with him, but his parts were great to read.
Voice of War was a fast-paced, entertaining read with an easy, flowing writing style that keeps the pages turning. I did find that it felt a little rushed towards the end, with a lot happening, and I’ve been left on the edge of my seat with worry for some of the characters, which has ultimately left me just wanting more. However, that is really a very minor issue in a wonderful book, and I really enjoyed Voice of War from start to finish, and I am so glad that the second book is only a few months away because I need to know what happens.
Preorder Links for Stones of Light:
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.