Happy endings only happen in faerie tales, Gavin. In life you need to work for any ending you can get. The happy ones always seem to take their price in tears. Yours or those of another, the price must always be paid.
‘The Riven Wyrde Saga’, authored by Graham Austin-King, is his first fantasy series. This saga is a trilogy consisting of ‘Fae – The Wild Hunt’, ‘Fae – The Realm of Twilight’ and ‘Fae – The Sins of the Wyrde’.
The premise of this series is, on the surface, straightforward. The fae (elves, fairies etc.) are real but have been locked off in their own dimension for millennia since they enslaved humanity. And now, they are coming back to exact their revenge on the world. At the same time, pseudo-vikings invade pseudo-england . There are many complex issues addressed here – domestic abuse, rape, religion poverty, power to name a few. Each of these issues have their own threads which intertwine with the main story line.
I recommend ‘The Riven Wyrde Saga’ to fantasy readers. This series has good character arcs, brutal action and a unique take on the fae. It does not shy away from addressing complex issues either.
‘The RIven Wyrde Saga’ has an ensemble cast of characters, each of whom is integral to the story line. Nominally, there are a couple of male characters, Kloss and Devin who could fit in the standard fantasy alpha male mold. But Graham Austin-King has taken the series beyond these two characters. There are strong male and female characters, each of whom could lead a series on their own. Most of them have fully developed character arcs too. Graham Austin-King is great at developing characters (see my review of ‘Faithless‘) and this series is no exception.
This series is average in terms of world building. I have mentioned the pseudo-vikings and pseudo-english before. The setting is medieval and the cities are pretty much what we have to come to expect from such settings – slums and palaces. The king rules over the lawful and the mob bosses rule the underworld. Nothing really special. Other than this, we get to see the world of the fae. Their world is almost always in twilight and that is one of the reasons they want to invade.
I found the pacing of the books a bit inconsistent. There were times when things dragged. One example is the starting of the realm of twilight. Some threads were more interesting than others (which is expected). I was looking forward to scenes with Selena and Kloss. Unfortunately, this contrast between interesting story lines and others was quite jarring.
The story is brutal and realistic. And like the opening quote says, there aren’t any magical fairy tale endings.
Graham Austin-King’s writing is excellent as always and that alone is a reason to read his books. I liked this sentence (and I don’t know why)
“The man possessed the social graces of a sewer rat, often present, but seldom welcome”.
Other Thoughts (Spoilers warning)
Spoilers below. Continue reading at your peril.
There are two things that bother me quite a bit. The first is the lack of explanations around why somethings happen. Devin is special. The fae sense something different about him. He can shoot faster and more accurately than a human. Does this mean he is fae or part-fae? This is never answered. Similarly, Kloss is suddenly able to match swords with Aelthen during the final fight. Why is this? The second thing that bothered me was the lack of closure for some characters. What happens to Devin?
I liked the portrayal of the fae. They are brutal killers. Aervern opposes Aelthern for her own reasons and not for some soft spot towards humanity. I like this approach since it makes someone turning on their species more realistic.
I liked Ylsriss’s semi happy ending. Graham Austin-King did not cop-out by letting her get her baby back. Instead she has to live with the knowledge that her baby is growing up without her. But she does get some sort of happiness by the virtue of her being pregnant.
Also published on Medium.