4/5 stars – A compelling, fun and clever fantasy
I picked this book up before I knew it was the winner of the SPFBO6 and I can see now why it won. It was very well written. The characters all unique, distinctive and the dialogue and interactions between them brilliant. The story was action-packed from the start and it never really let go until the end (kind of).
I do admit to a certain conflict. Whilst I found The Lost War well-plotted and artfully penned, I felt the characters were a little contrived. It was a reverse of convention whereby all the women protagonists were strong, clever and righteous and possessed an abundance of martial prowess whether it was Allandria’s bow or Samily’s warrior or Nirea’s pirate with twin scimitars. Whilst it fell to the men to have all the faults. They were variously flawed and knarled, made dumb choices, drank too much or were overly self-important. Now, having said that it does work. JLA writes it in such a way you can understand why Glorbad drinks so much (hints of PTSD) and why Aranok takes everything on his own shoulders. And, whilst it makes for a very engaging tale because of this, in many ways I found the male protagonists more interesting due to these foibles these bad traits. I guess what I am saying is that I would like to have seen a more flawed female protagonist although I rather suspect I might be seeing one in book two!!
Overall, it was a great read and rips along, the action fast-paced and brutal with an element of mystery threading through it. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and especially liked the ending. It was different in many ways and whilst I won’t elaborate or give any spoilers it was an ending I thoroughly enjoyed and sets things up beautifully for book two.
If you love fantasy stories and don’t mind a bit of graphic violence, swearing or bloodshed then you will not be disappointed with Justin Lee Anderson’s The Lost War: Eidyn.