Blog Tour (Book Review): The Talisman of Delucha (The Relics of War #2) – A.J. Calvin

Hello!

After a slight email blip where I hadn’t realised I was on this tour, I am delighted to be joining the Escapists Books blog tour for The Talisman of Delucha by A.J. Calvin, the second book in the Relics of War series.

You can find my review for book one Here.

Please do check out the other stops on the tour.

Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

Book Summary:

Ravin is an anomaly amongst those who use magic. He refuses to join the Council of Auras and tie his fate to the wizards, and long ago escaped a terrible fate amongst the Enlightened, called the Shadow Council by some. His escape gave him freedom few others with his power enjoy, and he means to keep it, no matter the cost.

Serving as an advisor to the Deluchan queen, Ravin learns a powerful relic is kept deep within the catacombs below the palace. War is on Delucha’s doorstep, brought about by none other than the council he fled from and their Soulless leaders. He resolves to retrieve the relic in order to combat the imminent threat, but collecting the Talisman of Delucha is not without its own danger.

As the Soulless’ army prepares to besiege the Deluchan capitol, Ravin makes one final, desperate attempt to secure the Talisman. The kingdom’s survival depends on his success, but time is not on his side.

The Review:

I was excited to return to the world of The Relics of War after really enjoying The Moon’s Eye last year, and book two – The Talisman of Delucha has firmly established this as a series that I love. Calvin has crafted a story in this series that has all the atmosphere and hallmarks of classic fantasy, while being entirely it’s own beast.

The worldbuilding was my favourite element of the first book, and that has continued here, as Calvin has not rested on her laurels. Now that the foundation of this world has been firmly established, the Talisman of Delucha with its sprawling, ongoing conflicts on many fronts both personal and engulfing entire areas and people has expanded the world apace.  This is a multi-Pov story which means that we have multiple windows into the world, and Calvin uses that to great effect to let the world expand in breadth and depth in the most organic way possible. We are getting to experience the ins and outs of the various cultures, the different approaches to magic and fighting and diplomacy through their eyes as it is encountered, which not only evades the potential for info-dumps but also makes each new element essential because it is impacting the situation or the character.

What made the worldbuilding for me, even more in this book than the first, is how the author wove together the fantastical elements, with the personal threads of each character – both main and secondary – and then with the political and diplomatic elements and of course the action. There are secrets, lies…and truths, and betrayals and each step taken in this book was one tied to a dozen different threads – each of which would have an impact somewhere in the story or the world, whether immediately evident or not. In this, and through so many elements of the worldbuilding Calvin has created a cohesive, living, breathing world of cause and effect, and I can’t help but be invested in everything when I know that it is all going to play out in one way or another.

‘He could not maintain the triple effort for much longer without draining himself dry. It was an outcome he could not afford; Tavesin needed his guidance and protection, and allowing Jannyn to break free was unthinkable.’

I especially like the limitations on the magic. We see the cost of overusing it, whether through exhaustion or having to prioritise what it is used for in a situation where it is needed for many things. I always enjoy seeing magic with cost/limitations, and where it is an incredibly powerful and useful tool, but not a fix-all, and Calvin has captured that perfectly with Tavesin and Ravin. And in turn I liked how the author then used that to flow into other aspects of the story, with Ravin’s realisation that he was needed with the army and with Tavesin; while Tavesin was pushed and pulled by his desire to save his friend, and the realisation that he needed more power and/or help if he was to help her. Again, lending to that feeling of a cohesive world.

As the worldbuilding came into its own in this second book, so did the characters. We got to see them established in The Moon’s Eye and begin their journeys, and now we continue to follow them through four main storylines that are like leylines, leading towards points of connection whose impact were fantastic to read and changed the paths of individuals and the story as a whole. Calvin’s characterisation in the first book was great, but it felt like it reached a new level here – and extended not just through our main characters, but to the secondary characters and the villains as well. In fact two of my favourite characters in this book were Adalin and Emra, who played such vital roles in multiple threads as it turned out, but weren’t our main POV characters. Vardak who was my favourite in the first book, remains a favourite – as does Ravin.

As with many elements of the book, we get to see the impact of previous events and decisions on the characters, and how they spill into present and shape future decisions. We see this through Vardak’s guilt over Janna, and his continued efforts to free his brother, while also bearing the weight of being a leader in war and having his path shaped by Emra and wider events. We see it in Ravin as he realises that his path has changed, that he is needed by someone and that he is stepping into a role very different from his previous aim.

Calvin is immensely skilled at bringing all these character elements together, delving into the emotional depth of each individual and within each interpersonal relationship, which adds so much to each decision and each interaction, because these are characters we know, that we care for and that we understand regardless of whether they are human or not.

“Alyra, who never had a mind for tactics, and Kama who certainly did. If the Soulless are as organized as we believe, it must be Kama behind the army’s movements. Dranamir would never have called a retreat, from what I understand.”

I also found myself really enjoying reading the villains – The Soulless.  All the characters are brilliantly brought to life, but there was just something about the Soulless that made for really compelling reading, perhaps because of the way they are with their cunning and infighting, the fact that they are always in flux amongst themselves, even as the fight against them goes on. I also very much appreciate that Calvin takes the time to let us get to know them, to see them beyond being the enemy – whether that is in their interpersonal relationship, or how they interact with the Murkor and others. It enriched them, and meant that it no longer became a black and white case of who you were supporting even as the story itself is very much about a war with the protagonists taking centre stage.

This is a wonderfully compelling book. Calvin’s prose is fantastic, and her battle scenes and emotional moments are both beautifully crafted and capture the different intensities. The pacing is spot on, with the feeling of inevitable moving towards what comes next, while still taking the time to have those all important moments to breathe and feel.

The Talisman of Delucha has not only built on the foundation laid by the first book in terms of worldbuilding and establishing the characters and plot, but it has continued to build up those layers, to create a very compelling book that thoroughly embraces the feel of classic fantasy. The bar has been raised by this second instalment, and I’m very much looking forward to picking up the third book in the trilogy – especially with a title like ‘The War of the Nameless’. I would absolutely recommend the Relics of War if you want rich worldbuilding, classic fantasy and a fantastically realised, diverse character-driven story.

A.J. Calvin is a science fiction/fantasy novelist from Loveland, Colorado. By day, she works as a microbiologist, but in her free time she writes. She lives with her husband, their cat, and a salt water aquarium.

When she is not working or writing, she enjoys scuba diving, hiking, and playing video games.

Social Media:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads |

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo

**

If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.

Rowena

2 thoughts on “Blog Tour (Book Review): The Talisman of Delucha (The Relics of War #2) – A.J. Calvin

  1. Pingback: Weekend Sale and Box Set Release - A.J. Calvin

  2. Pingback: Book Tour Recap: The Talisman of Delucha - A.J. Calvin

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