Book Review: An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy, #2) by James Islington

Book Review: An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy, #2) by James Islington

An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington

Petrik’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

TS’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series:  The Licanius Trilogy (Book #2 of 3)

Genre:  Fantasy, Epic fantasy

Pages: 752 pages

Published: 24th August 2017 by Orbit (UK) & 22nd August 2017 by Orbit (US)

Petrik’s Review

An engaging, ambitious, and mind-blowing sequel filled with pivotal revelations; this series is on its way to becoming one of my favorite series of all time.

First of all, there’s a summary of what happened in the previous book, and there’s a useful glossary of characters and in-world terminologies at the end of the book. An Echo of Things to Come is the second book in The Licanius Trilogy by James Islington, and this installment vastly heightened the complexities of the series. Although it’s true that there’s a well-written recap, I do personally believe that this is one of those series that you should binge read as soon as you can due to the series escalating level of details, scope, and complexities. If I had waited, let’s say, a month before I tackle this one, I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this book as much as I did. For the past couple of years, I’ve heard several readers said they felt confused by the names and world-building of this series, and I can’t say I’m surprised. The complexities of the multiple storylines, timelines, and history of the series have increased significantly. Being a devout fantasy reader, I tend to find that not many plotlines in the genre to be unpredictable anymore—and I’m okay with it—but this series so far has wowed me repeatedly. Islington’s debut novel did feel like it borrows many elements from Wheel of Time and Sanderson’s books, I must say that his series has become distinctive from other fantasy series with the arrival of this book. Seriously, the plotting of the series has been utterly ambitious, daring, unpredictable, and thought-provoking so far; I’m sure the third book will be even more so.

“The lesser of two evils, or the greater good. Get a good man to utter either of those phrases, and there is no one more eager to begin perpetrating evil.”

The above quote signified one of the main themes portrayed heavily in An Echo of Things to Come, and I think Islington did it exceptionally well. Both in real life and fiction, “the lesser of two evils” and “for the greater goods” are two phrases that have been used for justifications of vile actions way too many times, often resulting in deaths or casualties every time. This novel isn’t full of battle per se, excluding the climactic final 60 pages of the book, Islington used the pages of this sequel to unveil the mysteries—at the same time raising more questions—surrounding the history of the world and telling politics that is rife with ignorance and prejudice. Don’t treat this as me saying that the book was boring, not at all, the progression of the plot and the character’s development was superbly done. Islington effectively used his characters to explore the dangers that may come with having utter faith in a belief, and it worked tremendously for both the characterizations and themes of the series.

“I’m telling you that you should doubt—as I do my own beliefs. The day on which you decide not to question what you believe, is the day that you start making excuses for why you believe it.”

The character developments that the main characters have gone through in two books have surpassed my expectations. The main characters have gone through a lot of difficulties and struggle ever since our first encounter with them in the first book. So much has happened, and Islingstons achieved a great balance in giving spotlights to the main characters. However, if I have to choose, what made An Echo of Things to Come so incredible for me was Caeden’s chapters. I found myself thoroughly impressed by what Islington pulled off here with Caeden’s storyline; the ebb and flow of the narrative in the past and present timelines of Caeden’s storyline are just brilliant. It was so good that if Islington somehow had decided to make this book an installment about him, I wouldn’t have minded. And it’s not like the other characters story weren’t compelling, Caeden’s story was just THAT good; the quality of his story which focuses on morality, redemption, choices, and beliefs are simply on another level.

“The people with whom we are friends should never affect our morality; rather, our morality should affect with whom we are friends.”

I had mentioned in my review of the first installment that I had some minor issues with Islington’s writing during the first half of his debut; I didn’t feel that here. There’s an immensely noticeable improvement in the quality of the prose; it honestly felt so much well-polished and less repetitive now. Plus, it’s not easy to write a high fantasy series as complex and massive as this trilogy; there’s a ridiculous amount of planning that goes into it, especially plotting and world-building wise. Not only we get to learn more about the character’s background, the magic system, and the crucial missing pieces in the history of the world, there are also more prominent characters and elements now. I mean, there are Named Swords, Banes, Venerates, the ever-terrifying Tributaries, and many more. I wish I could tell you what all these cool things are, but for your own sake, read it and find out for yourself.

“The danger of evil, the purpose of evil, is that it causes those who would oppose it to become evil also.”

The fusion of mind-blowing revelations, characters to root for, complex plotlines, ambitious scope, and intricate world-building established An Echo of Things to Come as a stunning sequel to one of the most well-plotted series in the world right now. Additionally, the ending of this book was just jaw-dropping and brutal; the repercussions it has for the storyline will be gigantic, and I salute those readers who were able to survive the two years wait for the third book to be published. I loved this book even more than the first installment, that’s saying a lot considering how much I enjoyed the first book already. Many fans of the series have agreed that the third book is the best of the series, Orbit Books was kind enough to send me a review copy of the book two months ago, and my god you have no idea how excited I am that I finally can read it now.

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TS’s Review

An Echo Of Things To Come is an incredible sequel that keeps you invested in the characters, building the story with stunning revelations until you’re sitting there staring at the last page disbelievingly, and desperate for the next and final book.

I sympathise with those who read An Echo of Things to Come way before the arrival of the concluding volume. I couldn’t have imagine what it felt like to have to wait two years after an ending like that.  My review could only offer fairly broad strokes of why I think this book was so amazing; to say more would be to spoil it for others.   While I continued to notice influences from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, there was no doubt that Islington had managed to make The Licanius Trilogy completely his own.  It was inspired, but not derived.

Say what you will about James Islington, I’d say that the man has audacity. After reading two books of The Licanius Trilogy, I would consider it possibly the most ambitious debut trilogy that I’ve ever read. I’d even say that this is classic epic fantasy at its finest.  It is grand in scope and has a well-designed magic system, a fascinating world with its mysterious and intricate history and lore, well-written characters, and a complex but focussed plotline. The story never wavered from its primary plot.  Hence, even though An Echo of Things to Come felt like a middle book, it was an excellent one. It gradually sets the scenes and progresses the arcs of the main characters towards the world-at-large peril that was mentioned since the first book.

“The lesser of two evils, or the greater good.  Get a good man to utter either of those phrases, and there is no one more eager to begin perpetrating evil.”

More importantly, history of thousands of years past were also gradually unveiled – events and moments which  consequences brought us to this current storyline. It is complex, mind you, as there are many twists and turns along the way. But it was also accessible; information was not so much deliberately obscured but also not known to the main characters, so you learn as they did. The author also included a very helpful summary at the beginning of the book – both to recap the pertinent history which was made known in the previous book and the story so far. While there were a few more action scenes in this volume, it was definitely not the driving force in this series, and I found this to be a good thing for this particular narrative where well-crafted expositions and character arcs are more crucial than great action scenes. The writing was also noticeably more polished in this sequel, and I would expect that it’ll keep getting better when we get to the concluding volume.

“We can’t start mistaking what we can do for what we have the right to do.”

All those above made it a great book, but what made it amazing for me was how much I’ve grown to care about the characters.  We still have the four main characters, Davian, Asha, Wirr and Caeden, and each of their POV chapters were really engaging to read. The first three young adults I’ve mentioned above have grown so much since the first book, and it’s wonderful to see them holding their own, as each of them faced their own challenges.  Of those three, I found that Asha, in particular, had the most unexpected and interesting character arc in this book.

“It doesn’t matter how wrong he is, so long as he thinks he is right. A man who believes is the worst of enemies. A man who believes is more dangerous than anything.”

Now, we get to Caeden and this is where I was rendered speechless. Caeden’s story was hands-down the most compelling of them all, and it packed some serious emotional heft. Every single one of his POV chapter was either heart-breaking or shocking, or sometimes both, as he regained his memories of who he really was. This also meant that there are a lot of flashbacks in this book, but I found each one to be necessary, interesting and important to really develop and flesh-out the characterisation of Caeden. I even had to take breaks after some of his chapters, to digest what I’ve just read and to recover from the emotions it brought forth. Without a doubt, he is my favourite character in the series for his arc was the most fascinating, captivating and emotionally powerful.

The Licanius Trilogy is well on its way to being one of my all-time favourites. The Shadow of What Was Lost started it off with a promise, that it will be one of the best debut epic fantasies I’ve read in recent years. An Echo of Things to Come reinforced that Islington would very likely be fulfilling that ambitious and audacious promise in a truly epic finish to come.

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You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

4 thoughts on “Book Review: An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy, #2) by James Islington

  1. Another great review!
    I really want to binge read series more, so maybe I shoudl do that with this one!


    1. Thank you! If there’s one series which is both highly binge-worthy and should be binge read, this one fits the bill. 🙂

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