When Rob Hayes puts the word out that he is looking for bloggers to review his new book, my automatic response is flailing, a giant yes please and hoping I can get my greedy hands on it. As you can tell I was successful, I have since read it and it was bloody brilliant.
“At just fifteen years old, I had fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. I had been one of the Orran’s most powerful Sourcerers, celebrated by our allies and feared by our enemies. I had helped bring prosperity to my emperor’s lands, destruction to his foes. And now I was a prisoner, my power gone with my Sources. There was only one place the Terrelans would send a prisoner as valuable as I – the Pit.”
Eskara and Josef are sent to the Pit to live out their days, digging rocks, eating gruel and trying to avoid being beaten by their task masters. It’s not easy for Eskara who has a naturally prickly demeanour. Actually she is a fire breathing bitch queen and she refuses to be broken. I love her. She keeps to herself, sticking to Josef as much as possible. They were raised together, learning to embrace and control their power. The love they have for each other runs deeper than blood. They are two halves, Eskara is loyal, full of rage and ready to burn the world to the ground for her Emperor. Josef is incredibly talented but isn’t interested in the power, he wishes for a comfortable life, but with the war he has never had the chance.
Eskara, Eska to her friends, is our narrator and she may not be the most reliable. She weaves the past with the present and gives us little glimpses of the future, keeping you guessing and wanting to know how the hell she is going to get from her current situation to the next. She is small and can’t really fight, so she has to use her brain to out think those around her, she uses her words to lash out and she is so full of rage that they drip venom. Over time those in the pit try and break her and all they manage to do is stoke the rage that keeps her moving forward. She has no problem using people to get what she wants as well. And what she wants is out. Out of the pit and revenge on those who put her there and those who made her feel powerless. Just putting it out there, she sure as hell seems like the kind of girl that will get her vengeance.
Eska is a big bitch, and a terrible communicator. If she put on her big girl pants, maybe she could of got through a little smoother, but she is only fifteen, she has plenty of time to grow, and I do love a good character arc. Speaking of characters, we are lucky enough to have a fantastic cast, each bringing something new to the table, they have rich backstories and I can’t wait to find out more about some of them as we go on in the series. Although we might not always as Eska is pretty selfish and wrapped up in her own world and she could kill a man without bothering to find out his name.
The way the story was written, weaving the timelines together, meant the story was always moving, there were never any lulls. Hayes pulls you in with his brilliant first paragraph and he doesn’t like to let you go. And when you do get to the end, you want more. I need more, damn it, how long until the next book? Hayes brought the atmosphere of the pit to life, he leaves you with a sense of dread. You are on edge with the characters, wondering just how the next hammer will fall.
It’s a violent story with a dark feel. It’s not just the pit that’s dark, its the different ways he brings each characters own darkness out. We have a character that is essentially a pacifist, he doesn’t fight, but you know he is a ticking time bomb. Another who is a racist bigot. Another kills someone every night. And then the obvious guards who like beating on people for fun. You don’t always see it straight away, but he delves into these characters and brings it all out.
There is so much to love about Along The Razor’s Edge; The magic and monsters are fantastic, the way he has built the world is great. I love that while a larger world exists, they are ignored by the Orrans and Terrelans, but you know that there is so much room for the story to grow. I love that he didn’t make Eska unbelievable. She isn’t some super human killing machine. She is an angry girl who was torn away from her family, who when all else fails uses rage to keep her going. I love that she uses her emotions to make her stronger.
“I have never seen having emotion as a weakness, nor showing them. My emotions have always made me stronger. My hatred and anger give me strength when it should fail. My love and compassion have made me allies that otherwise might have been enemies. I have known emperors who were trained to wear their face like a mask, fall. Yet I have sat on a throne of corpses, and it was my emotions that helped put me here.”
Ok that right there. It gave me goosebumps when I read it and I actually said out loud “Fuck Yes”, because she is speaking my language. Ok, not the sitting on a throne of corpses, but I totally feel the having strong emotions thing.
Along The Razor’s Edge starts with Eska and then slowly builds, adding more characters, back story, world building and magic until we have this fully fleshed out beast of a story about a girl who refused to be broken, who refused to lose hope of vengeance and those who got swept up into her vortex along the way.
Order it, clear your calendar on release day, pour yourself a bourbon and immerse yourself in Rob J. Hayes latest masterpiece.
Get your copy – Amazon