Today it is my pleasure to join The Write Reads blog tour for The World Breaker Requiem by Luke Tarzian with a spotlight post for both books in the Adjacent Monsters duology. This is one of my favourite series and I’ve read both books multiple times so far and working on this post has made me want to read them again! It’s a series that deserves so much love and I hope that you will check out the rest of the tour and give the books a shot – below you’ll find info on both books and my previous reviews.
Guilt will always call you back…
Rhona is a faithful servant of the country Jémoon and a woman in love. Everything changes when her beloved sets the ravenous Vulture goddess loose upon the land. Forced to execute the woman she loves for committing treason, Rhona discovers a profound correlation between morality and truth. A connection that might save her people or annihilate them all.
You are a lie…
Varésh Lúm-talé is many things, most of all a genocidal liar. A falsity searching for the Phoenix goddess whom he believes can help him rectify his atrocities. Such an undertaking is an arduous one for a man with missing memories and a conscience set on rending him from inside out. A man whose journey leads to Hang-Dead Forest and a meeting with a Vulture goddess who is not entirely as she seems.
‘The night is cold and your blood runs hot with anticipation…”
I think this is the perfect sentence, to sum up, the feeling of reading a Tarzian book – anticipation here, being that sweeping feeling in the pit of your stomach as you launch yourself into the unknown (or the semi-known… depending if you’ve read Vultures or not). Excitement. Expectation. Fear. Curiosity. A multitude of emotions, and yet nothing compared to how you will feel at the end of the book, because Tarzian weaves stories with the full rawness of human experience, and in such a way that you can’t help but feel it all.
I won’t say much about the plot here in this review, because both because of the length and the nature of the tale of itself, you need to read it for yourself to truly appreciate the mastery at work here. Also, because it is so intricately crafted, each detail and layer is as finely balanced as the many dualities this book explores, that it would be impossible to capture the full power of what is done within these pages. What I will say is that The World Maker Parable is a book that demands your attention. It’s like following a twisting path through a rolling fog, and if you look away for a moment or venture off the path that is being laid at your fate, you will end up lost. It also demands it from the very beginning, and it’s an exercise in trust. Tarzian doesn’t hold our hand or tell us everything, instead, he pushes us into the fog and trusts us to find that path. It’s a gamble, but one that pays off in the most delightful way.
“Parable.” She held out a trembling, upturned palm. “This is what you meant when I met you as Mother Woe.” Tears dripped down her cheeks. “My story, my existence…”
Parable. A simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson (Oxford Dictionary). I would argue that there are multiple lessons within these pages, parables within parables. Or, perhaps it should be that there are multiple truths within each parable. I would certainly say there is nothing simple about this story, indeed, there is a delicious complexity to everything within The World Breaker Parable – so much for the reader to sink their teeth into, and really I feel that is what a parable needs to be. Humanity regardless of what form it takes in the characters is messy. Emotions are complex and weave a tangled web. How can a lesson be learned if it doesn’t reflect that complexity? That is why this book, this parable, works so well. Why it demands your attention, and why it resonates and lingers long beyond the reading because Tarzian has gathered mirror shards or should that be Shadow Twins to reflect on everything – big and small – the subtle moments, the little choices, as well as the grand, sweeping moments of change.
“An apology…Were I you, I too would say the same but expressed regret for your atrocities bears little weight a century and a half into ruin. Apologies will not remake the world. Apologies will not bring back the dead, nor will they mend my wounds.”
You will FEEL this book. You will lose yourself in it.
You will be consumed.
And you will find yourself asking questions, even if you are not entirely sure you want the answers.
We are guided through the maze of cracked psyches and minds, of emotions given voice and form. It is on one level trippy, especially as the story is told through the past and present, alternating between the two as though one was just a shadow of the other. And with the prevalence of guilt and regret and grief, that seems fairly accurate. It works well though, allowing us to see the cracking and the fallout, and the search for truth within the lies, the need for redemption – and the impossibility of it, at least in some eyes. On another level, and for many of the same reasons it is deeply profound. Dark fantasy can often brush against these different elements, but what makes the World Maker Parable stand out is that Tarzian has made an art form out of it – and if psychological fantasy isn’t a subgenre it should be, and this book would be at the forefront of it and thoroughly deserves to be.
As with the plot, I don’t want to say too much about the characters. However, I want to mention them, because Tarzian does so much with them within the pages of this book, and how he carves humanity out of the divine. They are also so vividly, beautifully described – an otherworldly quality in a story that treads the boundaries between reality and dreams, and the imagery adds another wonderful element to the story.
‘It was there the Phoenix stood, garbed in whites and golds that fell to gossamer threads of mist. Her great wings were furled about her like a cloak and her hair fell in loose, dark curls.’
If I wasn’t already in love with this book, the prose is would seal the deal, it’s stunning and haunting in equal measure, and I have happily come to the conclusion that I will never get tired of reading Tarzian’s writing. It is lyrical and emotive, with an ethereal quality that matches the characters and use of dreams, and yet at the same time, it is so clear and easy to imagine and feel what he is bringing to life – both the wonder and the horror that is captured between the pages. Because, while there is beauty and moments of calm and solace and a subtle thread of hope, this book is dark. It’s not blood and gore and violence, although death and punishment are key themes throughout, but it is a slow, splintering of self and descent into the places lurking between the cracks in the mind. Most people know that horrors can lurk in the mind – dark thoughts, nightmares, guilt and lies – and Tarzian has tapped into that and given it life.
The World Maker Parable is a perfect example of just how beautiful the darkness can be. This is not a light or easy read, and it shouldn’t be. However, the effort to follow the story that Tarzian weaves, and the courage to brave that haunting, bleakly beautiful darkness, is more than rewarded by what you will find within the pages of this book.
Prince of Woe…
Avaria Norrith is the adopted heir to the Ariathan throne. But that means little to a man who, for the better part of fifteen years, has sought and failed to earn his mother’s love. Fueled by pride and envy, Avaria seeks the means to prove himself and cast away his mental chains. When he’s tasked with the recreation of The Raven’s Rage he sees his chance, for with the infamous blade he can rewrite history and start anew.
Daughter of the Mountain…
Erath has not felt sunlight for a century. Not since Ariath condemned her people to a life of darkness with their misuse of The Raven’s Rage. But when an old friend comes seeking the remnants of the ancient sword, Erath cannot contain her curiosity and resolves to lend her aid. Is it true—can history be revised? Can her people be reclaimed?
Toll the Hounds…
They are hungry—and they are here
I LOVED THIS BOOK! There is no other way for me to start this review than to say that. I’ve loved every one of Tarzian’s books so far, but I have to say that The World Breaker Requiem is peak Tarzian.
The first time I read Requiem, I spent a couple of hours just sitting there processing how amazing this book was.
The second time I read it, I was just as swept away as the first time.
The third time, I was still finding new bits to fall in love with.
As with The World Maker Parable, this really is a book that you have to experience and I think that is exemplified by the fact that every time I’ve read this book, I’ve been struck by different lines, different imagery that has given me pause. I feel as though I could read this book a dozen times more (and to be fair, I probably will) and still find new moments to hook me in. Another aspect that adds to that re-readability, and one of the reasons I love Tarzian’s books is just how powerful and lasting the emotional impact of the story is, and how it has landed each and every time and how I feel as though I am still unspooling that particular thread of the book. I wish that I could bottle the feelings that Requiem provoked because they are so profound, so complicated – that as raw as they can be, I want to experience them all and keep experiencing them as long as possible.
“I found myself by losing hope.”
That emotional impact links in with another reason why I think The World Breaker Requiem lands so well, and that is amongst the emotions and the almost dream-like feeling that Tarzian conjures with his words, there are nuggets of truth like the quote above. Phrases. Moments. That just hit like a gut-punch, because they’re raw and real. Anchors of truth, in a nightmare of lies and illusions, deceptions and buried memories.
“The mind is a dangerous place. Quite disordered, as you can see.” His expression darkened. “Especially when your dreams and memories braid together with those belonging to a monster.”
As I’ve said before I absolutely love how Tarzian writes, and one aspect of that which was really highlighted for me in Requiem was how he uses the repetition of certain motifs, phrases or even words, both throughout the entire book or in the space of a page. I love how it highlights key moments and emotions, offering subtle threads of connection, both within the book itself and in the series as a whole, but it also deepens the emotional impact of key moments – leaving you with the feeling that the words and the emotions they conjure are sinking into your soul.
There has always been a wonderfully complex sense of humanity to Tarzian’s books. Amongst the fantastical elements, the bending of reality and time itself, and the intertwining of different timelines, this is a very human story – and I feel as though that shines even brighter in Requiem. Part of that is due to the characters, who we’ve seen in so many emotional states and stages of their own individual stories, as well as part of the overarching cycles – and Tarzian knows how to create living, breathing characters who are as complex and multi-faceted as the world he’s weaved around them. There are those who flee from their past, trying to forget it, those who have forgotten, and those who face it, or stumble into it – some who seem almost caught in a web of their own making, and others desperately forging a path forward – and a thousand shades of grey between them all in a world that would break them all. But, they all have reasons to keep going – threads of hope even in the darkest moments, goals and dreams – and it leaves us as the reader rooting for them, unable to look away even as the darkness reaches its zenith.
The characterisation has always been there, but that feeling of humanity reaches another level here because the characters are searching for a way to fix the past. This has been an ongoing theme, but with characters striking out to find a legendary sword with the power to alter history and time itself, and with glimpses across the Temporal sea, it takes centre stage here.
“To save what has been lost, one first must destroy what is yet to be lost.”
In Requiem Tarzian and the characters asks questions that can’t help but resonate with readers.What price would you be willing to pay if you could change the past? If you could fix the world? Is it worth destroying the world as it is, to go back or forward to a hoped-for ideal? How many of us have pondered that in the quiet moments, how many of us have those moments we would like to undo, a choice that we would see undone? Made all the more raw and real, by the fact that we’ve experienced what the characters have gone through – what they’ve done, or had done to them, and what they’ve lost – so it is impossible not to feel the pull they have towards the potential to be able to save what has been lost because it feels as though we have lost it too. Yet, at the same time, we have also been shown the dangers of messing with the Temporal sea, the warnings of what must be sacrificed, and as the book reaches the crescendo there is very much the feeling that everything rests on A knife-edge – with hope drawn like a hair across a sharp blade, waiting to see if it will be split – and it’s just fantastic to experience.
Also, as an aside and something that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before in my reviews of these books, is that I love the names – both of the characters and the places. Again, there is that lyrical nature that is so prevalent in Tarzian’s language, and they’re not always the easiest to remember – Requiem requires focus – but there is just something so fitting about all the names, puzzle pieces that fit into the whole.
Tarzian had already become a favourite, must-read author for me, but The World Breaker Requiem has well and truly cemented that, as I loved every single dark, twisted, consuming moment of this book. This is how dark fantasy should be done, and it’s delicious, and yes it does demand one hundred per cent of your attention all the way through, but the payoff is simply sublime. If you haven’t tried Tarzian’s work yet then you are truly missing out.
Luke Tarzian was born in Bucharest, Romania. His parents made the extremely poor choice of adopting him less than six months into his life. As such, he’s resided primarily in the United States and currently lives in California with his wife and their twin daughters. Somehow, they tolerate him.
Unfortunately, he can also be found online and, to the dismay of his clients, also functions as a cover artist for independent authors.
The World Maker Parable