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Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, reviews The Tower Broken by Mazarkis Williams, the final act in the fantasy trilogy The Tower and the Knife, following on from the novels The Emperor’s Knife and Knife-Sworn respectively. Like the first two volumes, the third is published by Jo Fletcher Books – and was published in hardcover November 7th in the UK.
“An excellent final novel in the Tower and Knife Trilogy. Mazarkis Williams delivers a strong satisfactory conclusion and will certainly keep readers who have read Books #1 & #2 entertained right the way through. The Tower Broken is amazing, strong and continues the 100% track record that I have had with the incredible Jo Fletcher Books.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
The world is at breaking point. The nothing, a terrible darkness caused by the festering wounds of a god, bleeds out the very essence of all, of stone, silk – and souls. Emperor Sarmin thought he had stopped it, but it is spreading towards his city, Cerana – and he is powerless to halt the destruction. Even as Cerana fills with refugees, the Yrkmen armies arrive with conquest in mind, but they offer to spare Sarmin’s people if they will convert to the Mogyrk faith. Time is running out for Sarmin and his wife, Mesema: the Mage’s Tower is cracked; the last mage, sent to find a mysterious pattern-worker in the desert, has vanished; and Sarmin believes his kidnapped brother Daveed still has a part to play. The walls are crumbling around them . . .
As of now, there are two publishers that are quickly shaping up to be ones that I will pretty much read anything from. The first is Angry Robot – who are more established and run on for longer so far than the other, but Jo Fletcher books does have one thing going for it so far – its 100% track record. Whilst I’ve not read as many books from Jo Fletcher as I have by Angry Robot, I’ve still enjoyed them all – be they Stephanie Saulter’s Gemsigns or Tom Pollock’s incredible The Skyscraper Throne Trilogy - but my first Strange Chemistry book was The Emperor’s Knife by Mazarkis Williams and as I’ve reviewed the previous two novels in the series, it seems only fitting that I share my thoughts on the third and final act.
The Tower Broken manages to be an entertaining and captivating read. It’s been labeled on the cover as compelling and I couldn’t agree more – I was really drawn in by the events that unfolded in this last novel and as a result I enjoyed it as much as the middle act and the first outing, with an engaging prose held together with a strong pace to keep the reader interested – at no points did I find myself wanting to put the novel down because it had reached a boring scene, I just wanted to keep reading. The world building has been really fleshed out over the entire trilogy as well – with the Empire of Cerena being developed thoroughly and Williams doesn’t overload the reader with info dumps, mainly because the basic foundations for the world have already been fleshed out in its last two parts.
Writing characters has been one of Williams’ many strengths and whilst the previous two novels may have suffered from inclusions of new characters halfway through the novels with little purpose or direction and expected investment in them – the third book does not suffer as much from this flaw as its predecessors. Sarmin gets a lot more pagetime in this book as he becomes the main focus of the book and whilst others like Mesema and Nessaket are pushed to the side. There isn’t a POV chapter for characters like Rushes, Grada and the aforementioned Nessaket in this book as Williams introduces several newcomers - Duke Didryk and Farid in particular – as well as splitting chapters between old hands Sarmin, Govnan and Mesaema.
Williams doesn’t fall into the trap of wrapping up the third act as quickly as he can and leaving the reader rushed and unsatisfied – instead, the conclusion manages to be engaging and captivating – with the pace remaining even pretty much throughout the entire novel as well as the overall tone. I won’t spoil what happens here for obvious reasons but The Tower Broken is a pretty solid read nonetheless. If you’ve been following the Trilogy since its start then you’ll be fully aware of just how awesome Williams can be as a writer and I’m really looking forward to seeing what fresh and interesting things he can bring to the table now that The Tower and Knife Trilogy has come to a conclusion, with not one single disappointment in its three book run. Highly recommended.