Review Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Fate Lashed by Josh Erikson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Ethereal Earth (Book #2)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 401 pages
Published: 7th February 2019 by Josh Erikson (Indie)
I’m so exultant that I followed my instinct and took another chance on this urban fantasy series.
It’s been a year since I’ve read Hero Forged, Josh Erikson’s debut and the first book in his Ethereal Earth series. I enjoyed reading the first book, Hero Forged was good, not amazing, but it showed glimpses of the potentials of better things to come for the series. I promised the author back then that I would come back to the series when I feel like I’m in the right mood, honestly speaking, though, I didn’t plan to read Fate Lashed, the sequel to Hero Forged, this soon, it’s not until my co-blogger, Emma, told me that the upcoming third book of the series— which is releasing soon—is shaping up to be so amazing that I contacted Erikson immediately telling him that I’m ready to jump back into the series. However, I certainly didn’t expect to be this impressed by the significant improvement poured into the series. I gave Hero Forged a 3.5 out of 5 stars rating, and I’m going to give Fate Lashed a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating.
“The world has so many legends. And each one has any number of cultural and regional variations that spin off and down through history until they either become something new or solidify into the strongest versions of themselves. And that’s probably super fun if you’re reading fairy tales for pleasure. But it gets much less cool if you’re studying because you’re legitimately worried about running into one of them in a dark alley.”
The story in Fate Lashed begins four months after the end of Hero Forged. Gabe has accepted the supernatural circumstances surrounding him, and now Gabe, Heather, and their new group of companions are tasked with a cliché quest: find a legendary artifact called the Igla, get paid in fortune, and at the same time, maybe even save the world. It’s not hyperbole to say that I enjoyed reading Fate Lashed SO MUCH more than the previous book. The content of the book was comparatively much more serious and darker in comparison to Hero Forged, but the well-placed humor, snarky comments, and pop-culture references that made the series FUN were still prominent in the narrative. Plus, the pacing of the plotline was terrifically well-paced that I had ridiculous difficulty putting this book down.
“Too bad this isn’t Japan,” he said. “Spike my hair up and I’d look like I walked out of a Final Fantasy game.” Both women only stared blankly back. “Seriously? Oh man, it’s this videogame series that… No. This isn’t helping me seem cooler. Lead the way.”
Well, you seem cooler to me because of this particular comment, Gabe.
The characterizations of Gabe, Heather, their relationship, and the new characters—especially Dante and Lorelei—are one of the definitive reasons why I loved this installment more. Gabe has a very compelling ‘voice’ to his narrative that I found to be distinctive and enjoyable to read, and the development of his relationship with Heather has truly become one of the main strengths of the series. Gabe’s constant moping about his relationship with Heather in his diary, CONscience, can indeed get tiring to read, but this felt deliberately done by the author to fulfill the purpose of genuine character’s growth for Gabe’s mentality, and it effectively worked. Yes, it can get a bit exhaustive, but it’s necessary. I wasn’t a fan of the longevity of Gabe’s denial of his circumstances in the first book, at least for this one, it felt more believable and empathizing. Regardless, both aspects felt crucial in order to grow Gabe’s character. It’s also refreshing to read from the perspective of protagonists that are in their 30’s and behave like one; Gabe actually reminded me of the character Lightsong from Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson in the way he uses humor and sass as a coping mechanism, and I highly appreciate this.
“If deep down everybody really is just selfish and terrible and petty, there’s no upper standard to calibrate against. I don’t like that. It would mean I have it all figured out right now, and neither nor the world can get any better than this. There’s no denying there’s a lot of dark in the night sky, but it’s comforting to know we can always navigate by the few pinpricks of light in it. Ah, that was cheesy. Sorry.”
Hero Forged and Fate Lashed has a publication time-gap of only a year, but it completely seemed like Erikson has grown so much on his storytelling skills. This improvement was remarkably displayed through the fast-paced and super exciting action sequences. Color me surprised that I found the action-packed to the core nature of Fate Lashed—without sacrificing any important characterizations—to be intense and engaging. The main quest given to Gabe and friends may be a cliché, but what happened inside the quest was not. Reading this book reminded me of the experience of playing the video game Uncharted 2; there were a lot of high-stakes and cinematic action scenes with a very aptly placed ‘breather’ scenes in-between, because of this, the action sequences—full of magic, weapons, demons, gods, minotaur, dragon—never lose its steam. Plus, Erikson’s simple and clean prose never stops making the narrative in every page flows well. The passages from CONscience that started each chapter, for example, were full of relatable emotions and social commentaries that also amplified the depth of Gabe’s characterizations.
“We live in a dichotomous world. We laud humility but reward egotism. We painstakingly insulate ourselves from danger but love living it vicariously. We hate fear but seek it like a drug. Is it any wonder that the monsters under our metaphorical bed are coming out so screwed up? If you were an ancient demon dropped into our time, how would you feel if half the people ran screaming while the other half kept asking for selfies?”
I know I’ve shared a lot of long quotations from the book in this review, I can’t help it, I actually wish I can share more of them, but this will do. Honestly, other than the minor issue caused by Gabe’s constant—but necessary—moping about Heather, everything about Fate Lashed was so utterly enjoyable to read. Fate Lashed is an exceptionally adrenaline-charged urban fantasy, a significant improvement over Hero Forged, and I’m actually annoyed that real-life circumstances forced me to put the book down so many times during my time of reading through it. Read this series if you’re looking to get into urban fantasy, if you’re already a fan of the subgenre, then you seriously have to give Ethereal Earth a read. I look forward to reading the next book, Blight Marked, as soon as possible. Until then, here’s one more quotation to end this review:
“We all believe we’re the heroes of our own stories, and that’s true as far as generic platitudes go. But if you look closely enough, you might be surprised to discover you’re also the villain of it. And that, I’m realizing, is why we need other people in our lives. To call us on our bullshit, to tell us we’re worth something, to give us hope when we’ve crushed ourselves beneath the weight of our own impossible expectations. The world sucks, and there’s no way around that. But it can be a tiny bit better if you find someone to help keep you a step ahead of your own inner bastards. Even a passing friendship can be a kind of symbiosis, and that’s where I’ve been wrong this whole time. It feels good to be fixing that.”
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