FATE OF THE FALLEN by Kel Kade (Book Review)
Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade is the first instalment in the Shroud of Prophecy series. Initially, it was the cover of this book that completely grabbed my attention; it features an immensely stunning piece of artwork created by the talented Jaime Jones. Now, this year I’ve found myself reading a lot of dark fantasy and grimdark, and whilst I love the genre, it can get to a point where you’re desperate for something different, for a book that is more on the lighthearted side, and one that is just pure fun. This book completely hit that spot for me, and was an absolute delight to read.
Fate of the Fallen includes many storytelling elements that I have particularly enjoyed in classic high fantasy novels: a hero on a quest, a prophecy, a chosen one. However, folks, what sets this book apart is that it takes these traditional fantasy components and completely turns them on their head, in the most entertaining way! Think, if you will, of a prophecy that has a thousand threads, and only one of those threads leads to a chosen one successfully saving the world from eradication. Imagine then what would happen if the chosen one could not fulfil the prophecy? What if alternatively his best friend, who is a respected yet simple Forester, reluctantly has to bear the weight? Then think of a world where the supposedly powerful either wish to jump ship or surrender instead of fighting a last battle. Basically, they’re all doomed, right? Well, in Fate of the Fallen this is exactly the tale we follow.
Although I’m technically not giving away a spoiler here, as what I’m about to discuss happens with the first few chapters of the book and is also mentioned in the synopsis, if you don’t wish to know anymore about the plot, please skip to the next paragraph. So, in Fate of the Fallen we travel with our main protagonist Aaslo, a caretaker of the forest of Goldenwood, who is tasked by the high sorceress Magdelay with bearing news of the chosen one’s demise to the King of Aldrea in the hope that a new saviour can be found. The previous chosen one, Mathias, was Aaslo’s best friend; in fact, he was more of a brother to him, therefore Aaslo bears a heavy burden indeed… erm, quite literally too, as he journeys through Aldrea with the severed head of the chosen one in a burlap sack tied to his waist. If that wasn’t bad enough, Mathias’ severed head talks to him too… constantly! There’s also more that occurs along the way, some ABSOLUTELY INSANE things, but I’ll not say anymore now because what follows throughout the course of the book is just a blast!
Okay, so now I’ll discuss what I thoroughly loved about this book, and hands down, it was two main factors. The first is that this was a satire fantasy. Kade injected just the right amount of sarcasm, shenanigans and witty banter, that had me laughing out loud on so many occasions, and kept me captivated. Everything you would expect to find in a traditional fantasy is overturned, and you never quite know how the story will pan out. I applaud you, Kade, because there were some scenes that literally made my jaw drop, and that is a hard feat to manage! Granted, the humour was fairly morbid and dark, but for me personally that’s the best kind! I adore dark twisted humour. I also enjoyed the tongue in cheek humour that the morally questionable God characters brought to the narrative; their views on humanity really showed how ridiculous we all are! I found this to be very much reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s style.
‘“What do you mean you’ve never killed a man?” Peck said. “You carry a head in a bag!”
“Yes, but I didn’t kill him. I needed proof that he was dead, and his body was too big to transport. I only cut off his head after he was dead.”’
The second factor which made me fall in love with Fate of the Fallen was the characters. For the majority of the story we have two main POVs; one being Aaslo, and the second being Myropa. I found Aaslo to be such a wholesome character who, despite all the odds, showed strength and courage, even if he never truly believed his worth. He gave off a dry sense of humour, and was very matter of fact, which worked well to create some comedic dialogue. Then there was Myropa, a reaper who could pass through the veil and enter Celestria, home to the Gods. Myropa was a slightly more tragic character, one that explored the value and appreciation of life, and I particularly liked that Kade included this aspect, because it brought extra depth to the narrative.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the utterly awesome ragtag crew of side characters that Aaslo picks up in his journey through various parts of Aldrea. Kade really excels at giving characters such realistic personalities, with distinct flaws but a lot of heart too. We meet the thieving duo Peck and Mory, and a former mage in training, Teza; I challenge any reader not to love these three by the end of the book! There are many more characters, but the one that stole the show for me was Dolt, a stubborn, violent and amusingly unpredictable horse! Dolt is simply the best!
‘Aaslo grunted and then looked at Ijen’s horse, who hadn’t moved during the entire encounter. “Your horse is remarkably well-behaved,” he said.
“As is yours,” replied Ijen, eyeing Dolt where he stood in the middle of the road. “Mine is bespelled.”
“Mine’s an idiot,” said Aaslo as he realised Dolt was actually asleep.’
Lastly, I want to mention the world building, as there is an immense amount of magic used and fantastical creatures featured in this novel, and if you know me, you’ll know that I’m a fan of this. There are mages, gods and goddesses, reapers, witches, vights, fae, and erm… a dragon’s arm!! I’ve made you curious, right?! Although we don’t get a lot of detail on the magical system, I don’t feel there always needs to be an explanation for magic use, and I feel it’s better to just go with it and enjoy. If I had to nitpick slightly, I’d say I did want more background exploring the realm of the gods and their narratives, but as this is the first in a trilogy, there is plenty of room for more in the sequels.
To sum up, within the pages of this book you will find a host of characters that never fail to entertain, and banter that will have you chuckling from beginning to end. I believe Kade has written a real gem of a fantasy in Fate of the Fallen, and I can’t wait to see where the story will lead next.
Review copy provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the copy. Fate of the Fallen is out now!