Lori's Reviews > Fallen

Fallen by Tim Lebbon
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's review
Aug 20, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, horror
Read in August, 2008

I came across Fallen by Tim Lebbon pretty randomly, just browsing the 'new release' section at my local library. I was sort of between books, in that the three I had been reading off and on for a while had lost my interest and the book I had put on hold hadn't come in yet, so I decided to check it out and give it a read. Fallen is a stand-alone book, and something of a prequel to Lebbon's Dusk and Dawn. Although all three are set in the world of Noreela, the events in Fallen take place long before the other two (to the tune of 1000-4000 years, not sure exactly).

Fallen follows Ramus and Nomi, a pair of rival explorers with a very love-hate sort of relationship, as they embark upon the greatest voyage of their lives. At the southern edge of Noreela stands The Great Divide, a cliff face so high that it is eclipsed by clouds. It is a looming barrier that no one has ever crossed--or at least no one has ever returned from trying to cross, until a mysterious wanderer appears with pages containing cryptic writing that supposedly comes from beyond the Divide. Although their reasons are very different, it is a challenge that neither Ramus nor Nomi can refuse. But what begins as a joint venture soon becomes a race across a treacherous landscape as each Voyager strives to beat the other to the top and beyond.

While this might sound like pretty standard fantasy fare, this book is something of an anomaly. It's pretty dark and has some pretty classic horror elements. Although not a lot of time is given to world building, Noreela is quickly established as a pretty darn scary place. Venturing out into the wilds is dangerous, and it seems like every other page the group is encountering a deadly new plant, creature or band of murderous cannibalistic human marauders. This is a world where a darkening sky could mean a coming rain storm or a of swarm of insects, snakes or lizards carried on the wind to rain down from above. When things turn violent, people die... messily. It's horrifying and tragic to watch (so to speak) a well-developed character get dismembered, beheaded, and dropped off a cliff. But I have to give the guy a nod for being willing to do it.

The characters in this book are pretty well developed, but for the two main characters (Ramus and Nomi) the more they are developed the less I sympathize with them. They have a past, and it isn't a very pretty one. They've both done terrible things to one another, and it makes their hired Serian bodyguards much more sympathetic--which is a shame because they're basically the "red shirts" of the story.

I really enjoyed reading most of this book, and thought for sure I was going to be able to give it a four or even five paw rating. Unfortunately, the ending fell a bit short. I didn't much care for the final confrontation with the 'big bad' and the results were pretty confusing and left a lot of questions unanswered. On top of that, I had to re-read a few pages twice because it just wasn't clear what the author was 'getting at'. In the end, I still think that it had the potential to be an awesome book and instead ended up just being OK. I will probably give Dusk a read because I like the style of Lebbon's writing and I'm willing to give him another chance. His chapters are long, but they're split up into sections small enough that it's easy to find a pause point. His characters are interesting and come to life easily, and his descriptions (other than a few notable exceptions) make it easy to visualize the events as they unfold--which can be both a good and bad thing, when you consider the horror elements of his writing. *shiver*
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