ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.
The Light of All That Falls by James Islington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Licanius Trilogy (Book #3 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic fantasy
Pages: 864 pages
Published: 12th December 2019 by Orbit (UK) & 10th December 2019 by Orbit (US)
The Light of All That Falls is an absolute marvel, a prodigious finishing touch to an ingeniously plotted series.
Here’s a little statistic to give you an idea of how much I loved this book and series. If you look at my Goodreads profile, you can take a look at my list of favorite authors. Inside this list are authors who have written three or more books—that I’ve read, of course—to be included in my “favorites” shelf. Before today—out of approximately four hundred books I’ve read—there were eight authors on this list. With one trilogy, and without a shadow of a doubt, I’m going to include James Islington as the ninth author to join my list of favorite authors. Binge reading this trilogy for the first time blew me away, and I’m already looking forward to rereading it in the future. If you stumbled upon this review without having read the previous books in the trilogy, rest assured that this review will be spoiler-free; no details regarding the plot will be mentioned. There is, however, a better option for you, pick up The Shadow of What Was Lost and begin binge-reading this astounding series. Now.
“He stared over the expanse and then closed his eyes, feeling the soft breeze against his face and the gentle silence of the night. These quiet moments were too rare, and went unappreciated too often. How long had it been since he had just stopped and breathed? The past year had been a blur of pressing forward, of learning and planning and obsessing over all the different things he could try, going through every potential strategy and how likely it was to succeed or fail. In all that time, it hadn’t felt like he had once just…paused.”
The Light of All That Falls is the third—and final—book in The Licanius Trilogy by James Islington. Unlike An Echo of Things to Come which starts immediately after the end of the first book, the story in The Light of All That Falls begins approximately one year after the end of the previous book. As much as I loved the previous two books, I do personally believe that The Light of All That Falls is, by far, the best book within the series; Islington has truly saved the best for last. I can’t emphasize how impressed I am by Islington’s feat of crafting this immense trilogy as his first series; it’s exceptionally well-plotted and complex. Complexities wise, in a different way and even though the two series are very different from each other, the complexities of The Licanius Trilogy was slightly reminiscent of Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. There are Gods, thousands of years of histories that affect the present predicament, immortals, powerful magics, and many more I’ll refrain from mentioning to avoid spoilers. The main differences between the two authors? Islington’s series has only three books rather than ten books, his writing is also less dense than Erikson’s and it’s also so much more accessible to read.
I honestly had my doubts, there was a myriad unresolved storyline for Islington to close in one book, and he nailed it in an extremely satisfying manner; no stones left unturned. All three books in the trilogy are inextricably linked one way or another. Nothing is wasted in this series, simple as that. Every moment of foreshadowing—whether you realized them or not—from the first book are crucial to the all-encompassing story of the series. These are also why it’s quite mandatory to read this trilogy subsequently, or at least not far in between. There are a twenty pages long detailed summaries at the beginning of the books, and a twelve pages long glossary at the end—thank you, Islington and Orbit Books for this—but I’m not sure they would be enough for a series as complex as this if it has been years since you’ve read the previous books. This epic fantasy series with a huge focus on faith, morality, prejudices, fates, friendship, and love as its themes will require your concentration and commitment. And it’s worth your time.
“Faithful people suffer and evil people prosper all the time, Davian—you must know that is true. Besides, if our actions are driven only by reward or punishment—eternal or otherwise—then they are motivated by greed and selfishness, not faith or love. That is where so many people go wrong, even those who say they believe in El. They obey because they think it will make their lives better, rather than themselves. And that is very much the wrong reason.”
It’s astounding how much the main characters have developed throughout the series, and I grew to love all of them as more and more as I progressed through the story. The physical torment they’ve endured was brutal, and the spiritual conflicts they constantly faced were damaging. I wish I can elaborate more on why I’m so emotionally invested in the four main characters, but unfortunately, that would mean going spoiler-fiesta, and I don’t want to do that. Caeden, in particular, has become one of my favorite characters of all time. Caeden made the series shine the most to me. I know some readers will disagree with me on this, but in my opinion, the series—especially in An Echo of Things to Come and this book—has some of the best flashback sections I’ve ever read; they’re on par with The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson, maybe even better! The juxtapositions of the past and the present have an enormous effect on intensifying the quality of the narrative and the lessons embedded in it. Are we, as a human, guided by destiny? Has everything been pre-destined? Or is it our free will and choices that decide the final result? Islington raised thought-provoking questions and dilemmas regarding the concept of free will, choices, beliefs, redemption, and fates; I found them working incredibly well for the story and the characterizations.
“I don’t doubt His existence, but how could I continue to love, worship, even just accept a god whose plan involved something so precious to me being ripped away?”
The Light of All That Falls features the most stunning display of power within the series. I wouldn’t call The Licanius Trilogy a battle-focused series, at least not when compared to other epic fantasy series. However, this one definitely had plenty of thrilling action sequences. From daring escape, violent torture, pulse-pounding stealth, and explosive display of magic, there’s no shortage of breathtaking scenes and cruel destructions being demonstrated. The vortex of chaos rules, but the glimmering light remains, and the light strives for peace. The flow of the climax sequences—specifically the final 100 pages—was a supercharged adrenaline rush reading experience. I mean it, I was so engrossed that I forgot to have my lunch, not even hunger could stop me from reading. Need I say more on how gripping and climatic it was?
“It is not enough to fight for the right side. You have to figure out how to fight the right way, too. If winning is truly all that matters, then we’ve lost sight of what’s actually right and wrong in the first place.”
This is hands down a spectacular conclusion enhanced by one of the most jaw-dropping epilogues I’ve come across, Islington efficaciously delivered an immaculate full-circle tale with expertise that matches the best of the best authors in the genre. I loved this book and series with all my heart. Heart-wrenching, tension-packed, meticulously crafted, riveting, and gloriously epic, The Light of All That Falls is an unforgettable superlative concluding installment; a page-turning classic fantasy with a modern voice that immediately earns Islington his place among the pantheon of greatest epic fantasy authors, and I’m seriously incapable of imagining a better ending for this mind-blowing series than what’s written here.
To Islington, bravo for such a truly spectacular feat, especially for a debut trilogy. I’ll be waiting patiently for the next book you write, and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the magnificence of this series is an echo of great things to come in your career as an author.
The Licanius Trilogy: 14.5/15 stars
The cover art of this series is nothing short of outstanding. Well done to the cover artist, Dominick Saponaro, and I hope he’ll be hired to do Islington’s books again in the future.
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