Cover art illustrated by: Chris McGrath
A Clash of Fates by Philip C. Quaintrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Echoes Saga (Book #9 of 9)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 836 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: 28th May 2021 by Quaintrell Publishing (Self-Published)
This is the end. I have finally finished reading A Clash of Fates and The Echoes Saga, a series comprised of 9 books and 1.6 million words.
“Love is an exceptional power in this world, one that can keep us standing when all else abandons us.”
The year 2022 was filled with me reading this series. I started Rise of the Ranger in January 2022; I finished A Clash of Fates on the last days of the year. And this book review took me more than four weeks to write. On top of difficulty writing it due to spoilers, I had this nagging feeling inside my brain that my super satisfied feeling upon finishing the book did not accurately reflect my overall thoughts. If I were to judge A Clash of Fates based on the beginning and ending alone, I would’ve given it a 5 stars rating. Easily. I’ve spent 9 books with these characters, and I loved the endings given to them. But a rating or review of a series or a book is not made of the ending alone; the journey matters, too. Maybe even more. And I had some issues with the storyline in A Clash of Fates. So after weeks of long contemplation, I think it is proper time to lay down my thoughts on A Clash of Fates, the final book in The Echoes Saga series by Philip C. Quaintrell. Note that this review will be shorter than usual. There are so many spoilers to dodge. I mean, even the cover art of A Clash of Fates is, in a way, a spoiler to some readers.
“The life of a mortal is not so bad, Athis began gently. On the contrary, I would argue it is all the more beautiful because of their mortality. Every moment is precious. They experience life like a flash of light; every colour, sound, and taste is more vibrant because of it.”
A Clash of Fates continues from where Last of the Dragorn ended. One of the things I liked about this final book of how seemingly Quaintrell has planned the ending. Quaintrell has mentioned plenty of times that he is a writer that does not plan most of his story. In other words, a pantser. And throughout the series, this can be seen (for better or worse) in the narrative. I have mentioned all the great things about each book in the series many times, and I can vouch that everything you liked about Quaintrell’s writing and storytelling style is still evident in the final installment. Before I talk about them again, allow me to get my grievances with A Clash of Fates out of the way first. The themes of leadership, immortality, legacy, and especially redemption are key themes of the series and A Clash of Fates. The way the theme of redemption is executed, however, gave me mixed feelings. In my review of Last of the Dragorn, I mentioned my immense dislike of this particular trope. It is when the main characters constantly insist on forgiving the villain or saying they deserve redemption no matter how many vile actions and deaths they caused. It is absolutely ridiculous to me. Not only it’s incoherently selfish toward the victims, it almost feels like a cheap way to prolong the series unnecessarily. The reasonings for this redemption insistence do check out, but this is still one of the main driving forces of the conflict in A Clash of Fates. And I am, unfortunately, not a fan of it.
“You still believe he can be redeemed, that he deserves to be redeemed. A ludicrous notion when we can’t even count the number of bones he stands upon.”
This is not in any way a shot at Quaintrell for writing this trope into the final trilogy. After all, whether the villain deserves to be redeemed or not is a debate among the characters in the series, too. I only wish it did not need to be discussed for two books long. Quaintrell is an incredible battle scenes writer. But this, the repeating divide and conquer plus fetch quests throughout the series, and all the small inconsequential battles written in blow-by-blow details hurt the pacing and length of The Echoes Saga, especially in Last of the Dragorn and A Clash of Fates. Don’t get me wrong. This is still a great book and series, and I will talk about the things I love about it soon. However, I cannot help but feel The Echoes Saga would have turned from something to be read merely for fun into something memorably special if it is a six, or at most, seven-book series instead of nine books after the way Last of the Dragorn and A Clash of Fates turned out. The lack of a real main character’s death despite so many wars and battles has killed the sense of danger in the conflict since the last book for me.
“Leaders, whatever their role, don’t set an example by being perfect. They set an example by getting back up. My judgment faltered and I made a mistake. In the end, I had to accept that and rise above it, whatever the punishment. And, like you, it helps that I have loyal supporters who believe in me.”
But here’s the thing. Despite some of my issues with A Clash of Fates. I have to be honest that I am slightly biased toward the characters here. It is one of the benefits of a long series. I have grown attached to the characters. Just reading about them living their daily lives can actually be something so enriching. One of the best things Quaintrell did with A Clash of Fates is the inclusion of Avandriell as a character. This character added so much depth to another main character’s development, and I love reading about their development so much. And as I said, Quaintrell’s battle scene is always well-written. The big battles that occurred somewhere in the first half and also the section felt powerful and vivid. The last battle scene pursued a more intimate and emotional confrontation than a massive war scene, and I think it is the right decision for the series. Last but not least, I love the ending. I don’t know what it is about epic fantasy novels, but long closing chapters seem rare at the end of a series. I am a fan of seeing what happened to the characters I spent my time with after the final battle. Not just in one or two short chapters, but a few if possible. I feel like it is a proper way to say goodbye to them. Quaintrell did leave out some room for a continuation should he choose to do it someday, but if he didn’t, the ending was incredibly satisfying.
“Wearing a crown is never what you expect. You think the whole world is yours and you can do what you like with it, but it’s quite the opposite. Your world is small. Your every step is watched. Your every word written down.
A Clash of Fates is a satisfying end to The Echoes Saga. It is not a mindblowing ending or series, but I think the entire series is just written as pure entertainment for fans of classic epic fantasy. Quaintrell himself mentioned he’s not here to subvert expectations. The ending of the series is predictable, and it is likely The Echoes Saga won’t become a landmark in epic fantasy. But Quaintrell is here to tell a great classic story filled with endearing characters. And he succeeded at it. The Echoes Saga ultimately is a reminder that classic epic fantasy will always be cherished and loved. Business-wise, it is proof that classic fantasy can still sell insanely well despite the delusion of traditional publishers. It is also a consistently great series. Last of the Dragorn aside, I rate every book in the series either 4 or 4.5 stars. As for my favorite book in the series, it will have to be The Knights of Erador, the seventh book in the series. I know there’s a prequel trilogy titled The Ranger Archives depicting Asher’s early exploits, but at this moment, I don’t think I will be reading that trilogy. Not anytime soon, anyway. I am satisfied with what I read here. But I will certainly look forward to reading Quaintrell’s future series he’s writing right now. Until that series is ready, if you’re a fan of classic fantasy with a modern voice and dragon rider epic fantasy, give The Echoes Saga a read.
“Our duty requires more than our ability to swing a sword and breathe fire. Listening is a powerful tool. It can elevate you in the eyes of your allies and grant you knowledge where your enemies are concerned. And, the dragon added, his tone growing more serious, if we are to make judgement on another, should we not seek the counsel of others to ensure we are informed? Anything else would be an abuse of our power.”
Rise of the Ranger: 4/5 stars
Empire of Dirt: 4.5/5 stars
Relic of the Gods: 4/5 stars
The Fall of Neverdark: 4/5 stars
Kingdom of Bones: 4/5 stars
Age of the King: 4.5/5 stars
The Knights of Erador: 4.5/5 stars
Last of the Dragorn: 3/5 stars
A Clash of Fates: 4/5 stars
The Echoes Saga: 36.5/45 stars
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