ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
Wisdom Lost strengthened the idea that Pandemonium Rising is one of the most underrated character-driven grimdark series in the market right now.
I’m very close to loving this series as much as I loved Richard Nell’s underrated Ash and Sand series. It is that good. Wisdom Lost is the second book in the Pandemonium Rising quartet by Michael Sliter. Told in the same multi-perspective character-driven narration as its predecessor, the story picks up immediately from where the previous book left off. Although I did give a content warning for the first installment, I don’t think Wisdom Lost merits a specific content warning. This doesn’t mean that this book doesn’t fall into the grimdark genre; it still does undeniably. However, I personally found it to be not as depressing or mentally brutal; I believe everyone’s acquainted to the genre will find this one easier—if I can call it that—to read for the heart. In Solace Lost, Sliter prepared the foundation for every main character’s background and personality; at the same time breaking one or two of the POV characters in both physical and mental aspect brutally. Wisdom Lost focuses on how the characters coped and developed from them.
“Part of understanding emotions in others was seeing what emotions they elicited within the self. One cannot truly understand rage or depression simply as an observer, bereft of empathy.”
Sliter’s prose impressed me once again; I found the prose to be incredibly easy to get into and each character’s perspectives and internal conflicts were consistently believable. You won’t find any characters behaving out of their personality and the themes of survival, religions, politics, and racial issues played a big role in influencing their actions. Although almost all of the perspective’s characters’ journey didn’t intersect in this installment, I loved how Sliter was still able to make sure that their storyline was still connected to play a part in the grander scheme of things to come in the remaining of the series. I immensely enjoyed reading Fenrir’s story, but Merigold, Emma, and the new interlogues chapters—which I’ll get into soon—were by far the best POV to read in Wisdom Lost. Seriously, I am truly amazed by the main female character’s development. I mentioned that I didn’t find myself invested in Emma’s story in my Solace Lost review, Sliter proved me wrong by showing outstanding character’s development for her gradually. Characterizations were absolutely the biggest strength of this installment and series; so much development went into them. The character’s phantom pain and the baggage from their past were simply well-written. Admittedly, there were some scenes—especially in Hafgan’s chapters—that I felt was a bit too long. To be fair, this is a very subjective minor issue because I can’t seem to find myself being invested in Hafgan’s story as much as I hoped since the first book. Although Hafgan’s storyline did get better here, in my opinion it was still weak in comparison to all the other POVs.
“The past cannot control you. You are more than what has happened to you. You are more than the things that you have done.”
One of the two most significant additions implemented into this novel was the inclusion of Interlogues sections that provides a crucial background of Yetra—one of the goddesses worshipped in the series— as she interacted with one particular side character. These interlogues were utilized brilliantly, not only it expanded the world-building and lore of the series, but it also uses the seven deadly sins to encapsulated Yetra’s background from her beginning as a human up to her inevitable ascension as a goddess. The interlogues were filled completely with dialogues. Seriously, it was just Yetra conversing with a side character, but it made the sections looked like a second-person narration in which Yetra is talking to us, the reader. As for the other great addition, it would be the usage of the magic system. The magic in this series has been super deadly and destructive so far; we’ve seen it being used a few times in the first book. However, Wisdom Lost is where the series became more action-packed. Close-quarter battle scenes were more often found in Fenrir’s and Hafgan’s POV; the larger-scale battle that has the magic—basically taking souls to recover or inflict damage of massive proportion—featured were in Merigold’s and Emma’s story. Sliter has really taken the foundation he laid in the first book into account and build the plot upon it wonderfully.
“You pitiable, hateful man. You speak of souls? Doesn’t your Yetra say ‘the soul is a measure of kindness a man spreads to others, friend or enemy?’ Does she not say that ‘the soul is strengthened by a man’s conviction to others?’ You, the hateful and vitriolic person that you are, must have a malformed, diminished soul. You are nothing more than a bitter, vicious dog, longing to be put down.”
Overall, this was an awesome sequel and I loved it. With the publication of Wisdom Lost, I truly believe that Sliter is on his way to make Pandemonium Rising a grimdark series to remember. The series is only halfway through but I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a character-driven grimdark series with a tone reminiscent of Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. I totally look forward to reading the third and penultimate installment of the series, Faith Lost.
Thank you so much to the author for using my name as a basis for one of the cities in this series. Also, thank you very much for including me in the acknowledgment section. It means a lot to me to have my name included in a book that I enjoyed reading!
Official release date: July 1st, 2019 (UK) and July 23rd, 2019 (US)
You can pre-order the book from: Amazon
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.