Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘The End of Dreams’ by Marcus Lee organised by Storytellers on Tour. This is the final book in the Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy, which has been one of my favourite series since I read the first book, and this has been the first series that I have discovered and followed through to completion through these tours.
If you want the opportunity to leave into this fantastic series for yourself, then the first book Kings & Daemons will be FREE on amazon from tomorrow (Wednesday 3rd) for five days. I can’t recommend this series highly enough, and this is an amazing chance to experience this story for yourself.
I hope that you will check out the book and the author, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE).
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
As Daleth the Witch-King and his horde ready themselves for the final battle, a small alliance prepares for a desperate last stand.
However, the alliance is weak and fractured, led by a king interested only in retaining his wealth and a lord commander consumed by his thirst for revenge. With a seemingly unbeatable army before them, invisible foes amongst them, and broken hearts between them, the alliance appears destined to fall.
Yet in these dark times, her light almost extinguished, a peasant huntress is soon to be queen. But if she can find what was lost, she might prove to be more powerful than two kings combined.
This war will bring about the end of dreams, but for whom, the gods have yet to decide.
There is always something bittersweet about finishing a series. On the one hand, this is a world, and a cast of characters that you have spent time with, sharing their adventures from the beginning and you want to see where that journey ends, particularly in a narrative with as much at stake as here. On the other, it is an ending and means that it is time to say farewell to the series (at least until you embark on a reread, and I can safely say here and now that this will be a series that I will reread many times in the future). For me, The Gifted and the Cursed has been a series that I’ve enjoyed since the beginning, and The End of Dreams is a fantastic, breath-taking conclusion.
Deliciously dark fantasy was how I described the first book, and that feeling has permeated throughout the series. This is not an easy world, there is no plot armour, the threat is very real and present regardless of who or what you are in this world, but there has always been that undercurrent of hope. Whether through the magic, or through the characters and their choices and growth, as dark as things had been, there has been light, and I felt that was very much the case in this third book. As everything balanced on a knife’s edge, Lee managed to create wonderful, intimate moments of humanity and life, and reasons to keep fighting and living, regardless of how dire things could be. The ideas of rebirth, of loving in this world and the next, of the land itself renewing, all build on this idea of hope and are woven through the book, and keep that hope burning, while also helping to raise the stakes and tension.
The world has expanded in breadth and depth throughout the series, and The End of Dreams continues that trend as we are introduced to new characters, cultures and locations. I loved the Horselords and the time that we spent with them, and you have to appreciate Lee’s skill at bringing these new elements into the story and weaving them into the narrative until it feels as though they’ve always part of it. While the series is very much character-driven, the world is far more than a backdrop to their story, and there were many places especially within this final book, where the land itself has almost become a character in and of itself.
It was fantastic to return to the characters that we have come to know and love, especially in the wake of the events in Tristian’s Folly, as well as to meet some new characters. Once again, I am in awe at Lee’s ability to make the villains so multi-faceted, and there are times when you find yourself liking them more than those that you might be expected to cheer for in typical fantasy, and I love that play on expectations. Daleth is a character I’ve liked all along, and here we got to see more depth to his character and motivations, and really does elevate him as a villain, and he is one that I will remember for a long time. I also particularly enjoyed Jared’s chapters, another POV that you would not necessarily be supportive of, and yet he is so well-written and compelling, that you can’t help but be drawn into his parts, and I found myself anticipating his sections.
What makes The End of Dreams so satisfying is that even as the characters – particularly our main ones – continue to grow into themselves, their roles and choices, and we get to see their relationships develop to match these changes, Lee brings it all together. Through all the twists and turns, and losses, he manages to bring their arcs to fitting conclusions – not necessarily easy ones, some raw and painful, others beautiful and some truly fitting (and there may have been one character’s ending that I may have danced a little victory dance too). With such a large, diverse cast this could not have been an easy endeavour, and yet it was executed brilliantly, in a way that felt raw, and real and so, so satisfying.
Lee’s writing has always been a delight, from the characters and relationships that have carried so much of this story, to the world that he has built around them, to the action and tension that permeates the narrative. In Tristian’s Folly, he did a fantastic job with the siege, and yet I feel that at The End of Dreams he has managed to take that to another level yet again. There were some spectacular action scenes throughout the book, and the variety, both in scale – from individual blow by blow combat to larger-scale battle scenes and cavalry charges, were gripping and had me on the edge of my seat. The stakes were ever-present, the threat very real, so each scene – whether it was a fight, a personal moment between the characters and anything in between carried weight and moved us forward.
The End of Dreams was everything I wanted and more and is a wonderful ending to a fantastic series. I am sad that this adventure is over, and yet if it has to end this is the way to do it. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who loves high fantasy, character-driven stories, and a trilogy that takes the best of fantasy and has turned it into something truly memorable.
About the Author:
Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.
As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.
Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.
So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.
However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.
Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.
Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.