Book Review: Voice of War by Zack Argyle
I discovered this book through this year's ongoing SPFBO competition, in which it became a finalist for the same blog that reviewed my own novel. Of course then I was curious to see what this one was about, and I have to say, it is very deserving of the finalist spot.
The things that stood out most to me about the book were the worldbuilding and the magic system, both of which are very strong. The magic is especially interesting and was somewhat reminiscent to me of the magic in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn novels, but still unique enough to stand on its own. Magic users, called threadweavers, have the ability to push or pull on threads of light attached to people and objects in the world. This ability is dependent on their eye color, with sapphire and emerald being the most common. As the story goes on we encounter other types of threadweaving, but I appreciated how the magic system maintained a sense of internal consistency so that even as we learned more about it, it never felt random or like an element was introduced simply for convenience. The writing itself is fairly straightforward and easy to follow, which I also appreciated. I actually listened to this one on audiobook and thought the narrator was fantastic - probably one of the best audiobook narrators I've heard (though I am admittedly still pretty new to audiobooks).
The story follows a few different point-of-view characters, the primary one being Chrys Valerian, a renowned threadweaver most famous for winning the war. He's also a soon-to-be father, and his life takes a drastic turn when his son is born and his family's lives are immediately threatened. I especially enjoyed the story's exploration of Chrys' battle with some of his own internal demons. It might for a really interesting personal conflict and one that I'm curious to see the ramifications of in the next book. I also liked the other two secondary POV characters, Laurel and Alverax. I probably connected most with Laurel out of any of the other characters in the story and thought she was well-written as a restless teenager trying to find her place in the world while also struggling with a borderline addiction to threadweaving. Alverax got less page time but was still a compelling character in his own right. I hope we get to learn more about him in the next book.
I only had a few complaints with this book, and most of them are probably more about personal preference. The pacing felt a little rushed to me for most of the book, and I wished we had spent a little more time on certain things. I also wish we'd spent more time getting to know the other characters. There are a lot of secondary characters who play key roles in the story, and I was really curious about some of their motivations and just wanted to get to know them a little better. There were also some of POV issues that broke my immersion in the story, where we would be in one character's close third-person POV for a scene but then have a few lines stuck in there that seemed to be from a different character's POV.
Despite these things, this book is excellent and definitely worth a read, especially if you are a fan of Brandon Sanderson and other similar authors. I'll be looking forward to reading the next book in the series when it releases.