Cover art illustrated by: Chris McGrath
Age of the King by Philip C. Quaintrell
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Echoes Saga (Book #6 of 9)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 678 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: 4th October 2019 by Quaintrell Publishing (Self-Published)
Age of the King is not only the best of the second trilogy in The Echoes Saga, but it is also the best in the entire series so far.
“Every life matters… Only when weight is given to the individual will the many thrive.”
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about Age of the King. Though I enjoyed The Fall of Neverdark and Kingdom of Bones very much, and also the entire series, really, none of the books in The Echoes Saga has made it into my list of favorite books. Until Age of the King, the sixth book in the series and the concluding volume of the second trilogy of The Echoes Saga by Philip C. Quaintrell enters the equation. There were many things Quaintrell did right here as a concluding book and a necessary installment for the last trilogy to excel.
“Don’t think about it. Accept the world isn’t the way you thought it was and move on; trust me, it’s the only way you’ll find sleep.”
The story in Age of the King continues immediately from where Kingdom of Bones ended. Part 1 of Age of the King revolves around dealing with the characters preparing to undertake quests to attain hard sought victory against Karakulak and the orcs. From the beginning, I loved reading how the characters progress and recover from the repercussions of what happened before. Pacing is one of the issues I had with Kingdom of Bones, but I felt there was none of that issue in Age of the King. The traveling section in Part 2 was done so efficiently, even if Doran Heavybelly’s part did involve repetition from the past books. And, of course, Part 4 and the last of the book was a breathtaking climax sequence to end the second trilogy.
’“Can you hear that echo?” the Master Dragorn called, luring the orc forward. “That’s the sound of history repeating itself!” And he launched at the king with the fury of a dragon.’
Quaintrell has always been great at writing action sequences, especially during the last chapters. Delivering plenty of superb action scenes is something he has proved since Rise of the Ranger and continues to do so here. And I won’t lie, the final battles weren’t as enthralling as the ones shown in Kingdom of Bones. But still, it was so good nonetheless. More importantly, Quaintrell has laid the necessary groundwork throughout the second trilogy. Although relatively not as epic as the previous books, what occurred at the final 100 pages of Age of the King, was still exciting and left me incredibly looking forward to reading the next and final three books in The Echoes Saga. I am, obviously, limited in what I can divulge here due to gigantic spoiler reasons. However, I can mention this. Everything was possible due to the magnificent (and surprising) characters’ development, especially Alijah and Vighon Draqaro.
“It’s a powerful tool, but a tool all the same. The weapon shouldn’t be judged because the wielder used it for wrong.”
When an author decides to write a new sequel trilogy, it is very likely that one of the biggest challenges an author has is to make sure the new set of characters can overcome the difficult challenge of living up to the main characters of the first series. And this is not just in the context of the plot but also in the reader’s heart. Initially, I felt the same about the new main characters in this second trilogy. This is not a surprise, though. Readers are bound to get attached more to characters with one or more books filled with their development and story rather than new characters in the same series. And that’s probably the best thing Quaintrell did right here. For example, one of the new villains, The Crow, proved to be an awesome addition to The Echoes Saga. His brilliant insane plans, which haven’t come to their full realization here, will undoubtedly play irreplaceable roles in the plotting and development of the final trilogy. Then there is also the balance in handling the returning and new characters and the surprisingly well-executed character development of Alijah and Vighon Draqaro I mentioned earlier.
“A mother’s love, she decided, was something no one should ever cross.”
Alijah has graced the cover art of The Fall of Neverdark, Inara in Kingdom of Bones, and now, Vighon Draqaro appeared on the front cover of Age of the King. I have talked about how good Alijah’s growth was in Kingdom of Bones, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise now that I increasingly liked reading his compelling journey in Age of the King, and more. But if someone told me Vighon Draqaro would be one of my favorite characters in the series back when I read The Fall of Neverdark, I would immediately reject that notion. But it did! And it never felt out of place. I wish I could talk about the details. Truly. But the things that drove Alijah and Vighon’s development are rewarding for first-time readers only if they read and experience them for themselves rather than hear them from me or other sources. Let’s say this instead, Vighon has transformed into one of my favorite characters in The Echoes Saga from his role as an unmemorable side character in The Fall of Neverdark. Without the existence of Alijah, Inara, Vighon, and The Crow, I doubt The Echoes Saga would be able to reach a new height of quality.
“The life of a true king is not one of banquets and balls. You will have to choose between life and death for your subjects, knowing that every choice can be the spark of rebellion and the beginning of war. If the arm is infected, you cut it off to save the body; never forget that.”
Please understand that my shorter length in review for Age of the King is due to me avoiding accidentally including massive spoilers. It is the sixth out of nine books, after all. But I repeat my statement. Age of the King is my favorite of the series so far, and each book I read in The Echoes Saga continuously put a bewilderment spell on me. I mean, The Echoes Saga is one of the most highly rated and popular self-published fantasy series on Amazon. Even on Goodreads, Age of the King alone has a 4.59 average rating out of 2,080 ratings at the moment. And yet, still, this series just doesn’t get talked about as often as it should be. I hope more readers will give this epic series a try. I am so excited to read the final trilogy in this series, and judging from the reader’s reception so far, the last trilogy seems to be the best of the entire series.
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