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The Chronicles of the Exile #1

When the Heavens Fall

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The first of an epic swords & sorcery fantasy series for fans of Steven Erikson, When the Heavens Fall features gritty characters, deadly magic, and meddlesome gods.

If you pick a fight with Shroud, the Lord of the Dead, you had better make sure you end up on the winning side, else death will mark only the beginning of your suffering.

A book that gives its wielder power over the dead has been stolen from a fellowship of mages that has kept the powerful relic dormant for centuries. The thief, a crafty, power-hungry necromancer, intends to use the Book of Lost Souls to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld. Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artifact at all cost.

However, the god is not the only one interested in the Book, and a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed. Among them is a reluctant Guardian who is commissioned by the Emperor to find the stolen Book, a troubled prince who battles enemies both personal and political, and a young girl of great power, whose past uniquely prepares her for an encounter with Shroud. The greatest threat to each of their quests lies not in the horror of an undead army but in the risk of betrayal from those closest to them. Each of their decisions comes at a personal cost and will not only affect them, but also determine the fate of their entire empire.

544 pages, Hardcover

First published May 19, 2015

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About the author

Marc Turner

10 books185 followers
Check out my website for a free audio short story: http://tinyurl.com/pgulukw
Video trailer: http://tinyurl.com/o9e7ye9

Marc Turner was born in Toronto, Canada, but grew up in England. He graduated from Lincoln College, Oxford University, in 1996 with a BA (Hons) in law, and subsequently joined a top ten law firm in the City of London. After realising that working there did not mix well with simple pleasures such as having a life, he fled north first to Leeds and then to Durham in search of a better work-life balance. Unfortunately it proved elusive, and so in 2007, rather than take the next step and move to Scotland, he began working part time so he could devote more time to his writing. Following the sale of his debut epic fantasy novel, When the Heavens Fall, he started writing full time.

Why writing? Because it is the only work he knows where daydreaming isn’t frowned upon, and because he has learned from bitter experience that he cannot not write. The authors whose work has most influenced him are Steven Erikson and Joe Abercrombie. Consequently he writes fast-paced, multi-threaded novels with a liberal sprinkling of humour; novels written on a panoramic scale, peopled by characters that stay in the memory. Or at least that’s the theory . . .

He lives in Durham, England, with his wife and son.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 154 reviews
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,030 followers
October 11, 2015
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews.

I’m one of those readers who let this novel slip by when it was first released. A fact which seems odd, because – with its huge world, multi-thread narrative, and grimdark tinged story – it is exactly the sort of fantasy I tend to look for. And I never would have had a second thought about passing it up if I had not begun seeing reviews about it. Not all of those were five star reviews, truth be told, and some of the reviewers were not glowingly complimentary of the story, but I heard enough to know I had to get my hands on it and give it a try.

Out of the gate, When the Heavens Fall didn’t seem different than many traditional quest stories I’d experienced. Maybe a bit more dark and brooding, but otherwise very familiar. Basically, we have a former Guardian (think kickass magical warrior-type) named Luker returning to a city he had left long ago. Once there he immediately finds that the reason he left (think political machinations of a ruler) have grown worse during his self-imposed exile, resulting in the Guardians’ numbers and power waning dangerously. But that really doesn’t concern Luker. What he has come back for is to head up a search party for his mentor (think father figure) who disappeared trying to apprehend a rogue mage named Mayot Mencada and retrieve a powerful artifact – a relic ominously dubbed the Book of Lost Souls.

Okay, I have to admit this sounded really interesting. Guess, I’m a sucker for quest fantasy. And as Mr. Turner began getting his quest group together and sending them out into this huge world I was really excited. Then Mr. Turner pulled the rug out from under me. The story shifting focus to three different characters, who have nothing to do with Luker’s group, or its quest, as well as being in three totally different part of the world.

The first locale is a small kingdom on the edge of the Forest of Sighs. This land fights constantly against the intrusion of the ferocious forest tribes and the wood’s haunted spirits, and as the heir to its throne, Ebon is on the front lines protecting his people – even as he waits for the reigns of rulership to pass into his hands. But though he presents a brave face to the world, our young lord is haunted by fear – a deep seated fear that the forest spirits will once again take over his mind, driving him back into the state of insanity that he only too recently emerged from. And this apprehension is beginning to grow as the realization sets in that there is a power stirring in the forest that might be even worse than the spirits themselves.

Across the continent, Parolla is a young woman driven by a seemingly impossible quest. Her dearest desire to uncover a portal to the Lord of Death’s realm and pass through to confront Shroud himself. For this god took someone or something important to her, and she will not rest until she uncovers a way to get it back. And it is this desire that eventually draws her to the Forest of Sighs far to the east, where she senses that death magic itself is being released into the world, drawing with it Shroud’s own servants from across the multiple dimensions.

Lastly, there is the rather pompous, pleasure loving priestess named Romany, follower of the Spider goddess. And when this crafty divinity shows up unexpectedly telling Romany she must go forth on an important and dangerous mission to the Forest of Sighs, the priestess is very unhappy, mainly because she will not be able to take her daily bubble bath and partake of her gourmet meals. But one cannot turn down a god, so off Romany goes to aid a rogue wizard who has a strange artifact that the Spider goddess does not want Shroud to retrieve.

From this multi-threaded story, Mr. Turner weaves an intricate plot which slowly brings Luker, Ebon, Parolla, and Romany to life, unveils more than a few behind-the-scenes power players, carefully molds a vivid world in which all the events take place, and eventually draws everyone together for a rousing conclusions. All of it done in a style that other reviewers have compared to Steven Erikson. Not having had the pleasure to sample Mr. Erickson (He is on my to-be-read list) I can’t say with certainty if the comparisons are accurate, but from what I have heard about the Malazan series, it seems very similar to When the Heavens Fall, which might or might not be a good thing according to your perspective.

As for me, I have to admit finding the beginning of the novel slow; the constant shifts between characters halting any reading momentum I’d built up and keeping me from fully investing in each person’s story. The fact that so much background, geography, and lore was also interwoven into those initial chapters really made me feel like I was drowning in a fantasy information ocean. But as the tale moved along and I became familiar with everyone and everything, those problems mostly disappeared — though, obviously, I did have my favorite characters and wished more of my time was spent with them as opposed to others.

All in all, I enjoyed When the Heavens Fall. Sure, it was a difficult story to get into, but the payoff for being patient was very rewarding. This is a dark, epic novel. One filled with complex necromancy, dark sorcery and more than a few monsters and gods. There are heroes and villains, intrigue and combat, mystery and magic; all of it set in a very intricately detailed world with a living history that springs to life before your eyes. And the four main characters who carry you through this initial foray into Mr. Turner’s fantasy land each see this struggle in very different ways, forcing you to pay close attention to the narrative and make choices regarding who you believe is right and who you believe is wrong. Yes, the web Mr. Turner weaves here is large and complex, but if you have the patience to stay with it, everything slowly clicks into place like a huge jigsaw puzzle being solved and ends with a truly mesmerizing conclusion.

Tor provided this book to me for free in return for an honest review. The review above was not paid for or influenced in any way by any person, entity or organization, but is my own personal opinions.
Author 1 book356 followers
February 28, 2017
Turner's debut is sporting a departmental line of structure rarely seen in modern fiction.

Pick a random fantasy book from your bookshelf. Turn it upside down. Read the summary. Now tell me the plot. No, wait, let me do that for you. You have a story told either from one or from multiple points of view, by several main characters. You follow the Protagonists' personal stories, and in doing so you sometimes witness a greater plot arc that involves the fate of an empire, or even that of a world. Well, in When The Heavens Fall that's not the case at all, but exactly the opposite. The main theme is a possible destruction of the world and the enslavement of all people, and we get to see the circumstances that led to that event, as well as the events that follow, witnessing the final outcome. In doing so, we follow the paths carved by the people that directly influenced the story, but make no mistake; they are not the protagonists. The story itself is.

"Romany's gaze lingered on the coats of golden chain mail worn by the undead champions. Such an uncivilized use of gold, particularly since, as even the priestess knew, the metal was soft and therefore entirely unsuited for use as armor. Such wanton profligacy! Such vulgar exhibitionism! Perhaps when this was over she would find a better use for that gold..."

When the Heavens Fall is great in a lot of aspects. It is gritty, brooding and intimate, featuring a well-thought-out magic system that is the most important and integral part of the story. The world building is mesmerizing, and it's subtly implied that there is a lot more going on outside the story. The greatest part of it though, is the motives of the protagonists. Each and every character has it's own reasons to be part of the story, and yet every action -and inaction- is intertwined with some other character's path, creating a complex web of inter-colliding circumstances.

All in all, When the Heavens Fall is an interesting format, and one that you don't see very often, offering a break from ordinary fantasy. I recommend it for your next read.

You can find more of my reviews over at http://BookNest.eu/
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
720 reviews1,174 followers
January 29, 2018
Although When the Heavens Fall didn’t knock my socks off, I’m still glad I read it. The elements that didn’t quite work for me were basic plot construction choices, which means the author had all of the world building, characterization, and writing skills, and even executed his vision to my satisfaction, he just didn’t give me a satisfying journey on top of it all. Because of that, I am super excited to dive into his second book and see how a new plot structure with a new cast of characters unfolds. Plus the second book is called Dragon Hunters, which already has my immediate attention. :-)

The first third of When the Heavens Fall was stellar. Turner set a really cool atmosphere with his world building – a rather ominous overtone shrouded with secrets. I knew immediately there was going to be a lot of things to discover about this world, and I couldn’t wait to find out more. He also introduced a handful of POV characters, all of whom I really enjoyed reading about (even the “unlikable” ones). He even hinted at several cool magics and gave us a glimpse into some fascinating nonhuman characters.

So, even though he set the stage brilliantly, where he took the story left a little to be desired. The multiple POV’s were actually part of the problem. They were perspectives from each aspect of the mystery surrounding a magical book, and the reader learned very early on what was going on. So it was a case of dramatic irony as the characters slowly got onto the same page as the reader. The use of dramatic irony usually drives me crazy, but I will say at least its use here allowed the reader to dig into the motives of all aspects of the conflict, which in itself is entertaining, I just wish I hadn’t know quite as much upfront.

Another issue that perpetuated this problem was pacing. It’s okay to have all of your characters focused around a single problem, but after the first third of the book, every time the character perspective switched, nothing significant had happened. Everybody just kind of maintained status quo for a good bulk of the book and so at times it felt like we were switching POVs just for the sake of and not because that perspective had something interesting and new to show us. So for that reason, I feel the book could have been stronger had the plot been tightened with a bit more focus within each POV. This is also likely the main reason why it took me a full two weeks to get through.

All that said, I still have an overall positive attitude towards the book and thought the things it did well, it did really well. I love the world and its dynamics and can’t wait to explore more of it, I liked the characters and hope they get a little more depth in the future, and appreciated the writing style and overall voice. This was a buddy read with some friends at Fantasy Buddy Reads, and there were a lot of comments referencing similarities to Erikson’s Malazan series, so chances are if you liked that one this one will give you some kicks.

Recommendations: this is a slow burn fantasy that built a great foundation to this cool world and had a cast of highly interesting characters (even if they were a tad flat). This wouldn’t be the first book I handed to someone if they needed a recommendation for a good fantasy, but it’s definitely one I would talk positively about with someone who is well read in the genre. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great start and I can’t wait to see more of what this author can do.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com.

Other books you might like:
Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1) by Steven Erikson The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1) by Brian Staveley Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1) by Mark Lawrence The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin Blood Song (Raven's Shadow, #1) by Anthony Ryan
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,008 reviews2,597 followers
May 22, 2015
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/05/22/b...

Marc Turner’s When the Heavens Fall was a book that snuck quietly onto my radar earlier this year. I knew next to nothing about it beyond the official publisher’s description, and so as with most things shrouded in mystery, I was instantly intrigued and hoping it would score a surprise hit. In retrospect, my first impressions might have been different if I had kept my expectations more in line, but even after they were tempered I knew I probably wouldn’t be shelving this one under my favorites. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, because this is a very solid debut. However, some parts just didn’t work for me as well as it probably would for other readers.

At first glance, this seemed like your classic quest narrative. All the characters and events appeared to be linked to the theft of an extremely powerful and dangerous magical artifact called the Book of Lost Souls. Hidden long ago by the death god Shroud, a rogue mage called Mayot Mencada has since uncovered the tome and spirited it away deep into the Forest of Sighs. This sparks the beginning of the story for four different characters, each with their own agendas. Luker is a former Guardian who embarks on this journey to search not for the book but for his mentor, who was the last person to go after Mayot. Tasked to keep an eye on things is a priestess named Romany, whose patron goddess the Spider was the one who manipulated Mayot into stealing the book in the first place. Then there’s Ebon, heir to a kingdom on the edge of the Forest of Sighs, who is also plagued by voices of spirits in his head. And finally, there’s Parolla, a young woman who seeks entry into Shroud’s realm to settle an old debt with the Lord of the Dead himself.

I think most epic fantasies I’ve read are structured in a way so that each chapter is given to a different character perspective in order to keep all the points-of-view straight. However, When the Heavens Fall does not follow this format, instead switching from viewpoint to viewpoint randomly within chapters, which is one reason why the first 100 pages gave me so much trouble. This constant jumping around – especially when the story is dealing with multiple characters in different locations – gives the introduction a sense of disorganization. This section also holds a lot of background information, and the fact that it’s so densely packed slows down the pacing quite a bit.

To its credit, the book picks up by a lot after the first half. It’s not a coincidence that this is also when the four different storylines begin to converge and when I finally started to spot the connections. Each plot thread does have its ups and downs, though. For example, Luker’s story didn’t capture my interest until the finale, since so much of his story about search for the book/his mentor felt like wheels spinning in place. after losing much of its traction past the first few chapters. On the other hand, Parolla’s story was just the opposite; so much about her was an unknown in the intro, but the more I learned about her and her quest, the more excited I became about her character. And because Romany so often dealt in the metaphysical realm and appeared in a spiritual form, that abstraction might have predisposed me against her chapters. Perhaps the only one whose story I consistently enjoyed was Ebon’s, with his struggles to protect his kingdom in the face of undead attackers and dubious allies. When the four characters find themselves all together in the final showdown against Mayot though, that’s when things get real. This is a very large and intricate web that Marc Turner has spun, and while it does take a little patience, I promise everything will eventually click into place. The ending is truly superb.

I see in Marc Turner’s profile that he names Steven Erikson and Joe Abercrombie as his major influences. After reading When the Heavens Fall, I can definitely see that, though I would say his writing style leans more towards the former author than the latter. Certainly I feel it is closer to Erikson than Patrick Rothfuss, who is the one mentioned in the book’s blurb. I’ve seen several reviewers compare this one to the Malazan books, and in fact I agree they are quite similar in style and tone with that dark, epic feel. Magic is a very complex and abstract concept here, and in a novel like this which is not immune to its fair share of common fantasy tropes, I have to say the system of necromancy and dark sorcery is its most unique and striking aspect.

All in all, this was a good book, though I won’t deny there were many parts that presented a real struggle. The biggest obstacle was the pacing, which was uneven in parts and slowed the momentum. Furthermore, it’s possible my enjoyment was impeded by the fact this might not even be the type of epic fantasy I would normally go for. It’s interesting to note I couldn’t get into Erikson’s Malazan either, so the problem likely isn’t with the book, it’s with me. What this means is I can see When the Heavens Fall working extremely well for some readers, but I just wasn’t swept off my feet. For you, this could end up one of your favorite reads this year. For me, it was an experience I wish I could have enjoyed more. Still, I don’t regret reading this. It was a new and refreshing encounter with a very different kind of sword and sorcery.
Profile Image for Stefan Bah.
163 reviews224 followers
November 21, 2017
“Seek not beauty in battle. Seek not beauty in death. Consider not your own life. If you wish to protect that which must be protected, then strike while your opponent’s back is turned.”

I knew next to nothing about this book. I knew of its existence and I knew I didn’t liked the cover. And that’s pretty much it.
Then, in a great anthology Evil is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists, I have read a short story about water-mage pirate Mazana Creed. And, besides pirates and great female character in it, I was intrigued by this story in which world setting is such that mages are using their powers based on four elements; in essence an elemental magic system where earth power is dominant over air, where air rules water, water fire and fire earth.
It was quite enough for me, and because I really don’t judge book by its cover, I decided to make this novel my immediate read.
And now when I have finished it I am overwhelmed by how much this book has to offer.

So, what this book is about?

Well, it all starts with a book itself. In the Empire of Erin Elal there’s a Dark Tower which serves as a prison for a very dark and powerful Book of Lost Souls. Until one day that book is stolen and one of most powerful sorcerers of the Dark Tower, a veteran necromancer Mayor Mencada, is set to retrieve it.
After a time his regular reports became scarce and then nonexistent. Long silence was the only answer and after yet another retrieving mission failed, strange rumors are reaching the Empire; rumors of terrifying evil in Forest of Sigh, in ancient capitol Estapharriol, which is buried beneath the trees.

Luker Essendar is an ex-Guardian, an elite soldier, who has ability to use his power called Will in order to, for example, ever so slightly influence laws of physics and inanimate objects that abide by them. So it figures how such ability makes him master of swordsman and excellent tactician. While other mages, necromancers and Gods might succumb to their delusions of omnipotence, Luker had eyes only for task at hand.
But also, he is a broken man, returning to his homeland after losing whatever he ought so many years ago to find.
Finally and completely unexpectedly, it is in his homeland that he will find something to seek for. His former master, member of Guardian Council, Kanon who seems lost after he was sent to retrieve certain sorcerer.

Romany Elivar is a High Priestess and not so devoted worshiper of Goddess Spider. Actually, if it was up to her, she would be entirely devoted to peaceful baths and good vine.
But great power is stirring in Forest of Sigh, so great that even her Goddess can’t ignore it, nor opportunities that arose with it.
But Spider’s ways are a subtle business, so instead seizing that power for herself, she decides to guide it, safely and unknowingly tangle it in her webbing, so that she could trap it there, without anyone noticing.
And for that task she sends her high priestess, a task from which Romany will learn just how much she resembles her Goddess.

Ebon Calidar is a Prince of Galitia, small Kingdom in the north, edging with ancient Forest of Sigh. He successfully defends his kingdom from local tribesmen and spirits of long lost nation that still dwells in the forest of their ultimate demise, while preparing himself to take the throne and negotiate truce with northern ruler of Sartor, Consel Garat Hallon.
Until one night, while hosting the peacetalks, his capitol is attacked by the people believed to be long extinct and their spirits trapped in the forest. But this people are far from spirits, because they are indeed banging at his door in flesh and blood. And when he hits them down, they get back up, refusing to die.

Parolla Morivan is a necromancer running from the zealots of the Antlered God and its worshiper Lord of the Hunt. She is also looking for a door to the Underworld and a God that usurp its throne, Shroud.
This God gifted her with great powers, so vast and cruel in its core, that they make her one of the most powerful sorceress in the known world, but also loneliest, because none living creature could stand beside her, without her corrupting it, taking its life force from it, until it withers to ashes.
And she is looking forward expressing her gratitude for such gift in person.

And there’s plethora of other characters in this novel but I’ll let you discover them for yourselves.

Marc Turner did incredible work creating this world with deeply rooted history in it, astonishingly creative magic system and diverse characterization.
He didn’t just take liberty with characters in making them diverse, he actually, like a child in sand, played with different ways to show us how he can deconstruct and build a character.
He didn’t bothered his readers by writing 300 pages of characters history just so he could, in another 300 pages, explain characters actions in present. Nor did he take reader by his hand to explain to him how grass is green, sky blue and water wet.
But above everything else, he used subtlety. Not just in characterization, but in worldbuilding, telling the story etc.

For example, there’s a scene with Goddess Spider recruiting Romany, High Priestess of her temple.
Romany is obviously not ready to jump to action, after years of spending secluded in a temple, in luxury and lazing while minions served her.
But she accepts, although grudgingly and because she has no choice in the matter. There's also part of her that is power-crazy as her Goddess, and this is a great opportunity to gain even more power.
So, in order for Spider to transport her to place where she needs her, she has to deconstruct Romany in atomic particles, for the sake of safeness, and more importantly - speed, and then she reassembles her upon they arrival at destination.
And in the light of the day, while catching her breath from roaming the forest, when Romany sees her body and sees effects of years of inactivity and gluttony, instead of rational assessment of reasons for her physical condition, she blames Spider for having such an awful taste in humor while reassembling her, by “adding a little bit on her side”, choosing to completely deceive herself from the truth in the process.

In just few paragraphs author managed to establish and explain relationship of Goddess and High Priestess, while also showing to what extent would Romany go if truth doesn’t fit her rationality.
This not just subtly adds more layers and builds a character without overwhelming the reader with characters history, convoluted plot or something else, but successfully leaves a space for a characters build up in more ways than few, while moving the plot and story forward.
And book is filled with many other examples such as this.

Regrettably I have to say that those who find Steven Erikson's books challenging will find this one to be that too.
Even I who somehow managed to complete a ten days marathon of Malazan books had to put down this novel a bit from time to time and rest my eyes and my brain.
Those who enjoy Malazan world should have this as priority.
Profile Image for Eric.
179 reviews50 followers
February 11, 2019
4.5 Stars

An excellent start to a fantasy series that I can’t wait to read more of. When the Heavens Fall was one of the better fantasy books published in the last few years that I’ve read.

First, the plot. It was actually a very simple plot, and that was one of my very few issues with the book. Ultimately, the book is about a powerful object and the convergence of various other factions in an effort by each to seize control of the artifact and the power it brings. But Turner makes the story so much more interesting than just an attempt by rivals to gain power. Seeing how the various entities made and abandoned allegiances along the way was fascinating.

The story is told from the POV of 4 main characters, each with their own motivations for becoming involved in what quickly becomes a bloody contest. There is a member of a warrior order, a priestess, a noble, and a mysterious sorceress. Each POV is told in a fairly short section before switching to another POV. I appreciated the format, as they helped keep the pace moving .

The writing itself is excellent and does not feel like a debut novel. I was particularly impressed with how Turner managed to convey so much information about each of the 4 main characters simply by the circumstances of how we first encounter them. There are no info dumps in this book. I saw several comparisons to the style Steven Erikson uses in his Malazan books, and I would agree to an extent, though Turner’s writing style is nowhere near as dense, and as a result I found it much more accessible.

That brings the next point, and an area in which Turner truly shines. The woldbuilding is phenomenal. The scope of the world he’s created is incredible and unique. There are gods, empires, kingdoms, fantastic creatures, warrior priests, and so much more. As a lifelong fantasy fan and lover of fantasy lore, it was amazing. So many creatures and warriors and powers were shown or mentioned in passing that it left me drooling and wanting more. Knights powered by death magic wielding invested weapons? Sorcerers controlling demons? Elemental Mages? An Everlord? I’m still not sure what that last one is, but I want to know. My inner geek was happy.

And the magic. This is not a book that has a touch of magic here and there. Magic is everywhere, with a wide range of powers. There is no meticulously designed magic system like you’d find in a Brandon Sanderson book, but in a way I enjoyed that. Turner struck a good balance between giving his magic genuine power without letting it become an easy way for his characters to get out of any situation. The magic felt grounded and real, never veering into the absurd or overpowered.

Of the fantasy novels published in the last few years, John Gwynne, Brandon Sanderson, and James Islington have probably written my favorites. With When the Heavens Fall, Marc Turner has added his name to my list.
Profile Image for Solseit.
297 reviews73 followers
December 17, 2017
I was completely drawn into this world, multiple stories of unrelated characters facing different issues and challenges, dealing with the gods meddling with human affairs.

It is a 4.5 stars book for me, reminiscent of the Malazan Book of the Fallen with interesting characters, magic systems and gods.

Profile Image for Margret.
142 reviews55 followers
December 20, 2017
Can’t quite put my finger on why this book wasn’t a hit with me. It’s a weak 3 stars

-The world building was good, not great.
-good premise, exciting battle scenes
-The magic system was unique and well explained
-Pacing at times left something to be desired
-most of all the characters I feel weren’t well developed.

Could be my mood, or the books I have read lately have well developed characters and I don’t feel this one has been up to par on that end
Profile Image for Matthew.
381 reviews136 followers
March 8, 2016
One of the best debut fantasies I've ever read. Turner is someone that will become a household name in the years to come.

4 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Veronica .
744 reviews178 followers
December 29, 2017
Well, this started out well enough...an interesting world and four POV characters to guide us through it...but by the midway point it just seemed to be all show and no real substance. There's a Prince, a Priestess, a Guardian with Jedi-like powers (™ Star Wars), and a demi-goddess (?) who are all more or less on converging paths to defeat a crazy coot mage with his very own Precious (™ Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien). The problem is there is no real character development going on in 700 pages worth of story so what we're left with is a really long road trip tale that just moves from one fight scene to the next. Good news for fight scene aficionados but a bit lacking if you want more from your fantasy story than just action. It wasn't bad but some decent character development would have made this into something...more.
Profile Image for Tracey the Lizard Queen.
250 reviews39 followers
January 6, 2017
Originally reviewed at: http://thequeenofblades.blogspot.co.u...

Shamefully, I didn't pick this up immediately when it was released. I had noticed it on Goodreads, but I had many, many books to read. It was shelved, and joined the back of the line. Yes, I am an awful person. It wasn't until I met Marc Turner that I figured I better get to it.

When the Heavens Fall was compared to Malazan by another reviewer. This set off alarm bells in my head. I love Malazan, no not just love. When I'm reading any of TMBotF, I live in them. I eat, sleep, breathe Malazan. It's my favourite series. So I went into this praying that I would like it.

Turns out, there is quite a Malazanish feel to it. But not so much that people put off by the scale of Erikson's work would be alienated. It had just the right balance of epic scope, well-formed characters, and of course, a few meddling immortals.

The use of only four PoV characters keeps the pace flowing nicely. It quite ingenious actually (even a Malazan superfan like myself has to admit that its tough to keep up at times), by keeping the PoV cast pretty small, Turner keeps the reader engaged and prevents the sometimes occurring problem in epic fantasy of the reader getting bored/overwhelmed/confused. It works very well here.

The characters are fantastic, each one is lovingly crafted. Some are led by a sense of duty, others vengeance, and others pushed by unseen or seen forces. Parolla was immediately a favourite of mine, and Romany's ridiculous sense of entitlement had me hating her at first, and then that gradually evolved into admiration, and then love.

The plot revolves around a mystical book, stolen by a rather nasty old mage, and carried of to an ancient dead city. Various forces conspire to manipulate the mage for their own gains, leading to a convergence of power at the climax. This is everything I love.

I had always thought male authors cannot write female characters, not really. Yeah, they give it a go, and it kind of works. But readers can always tell. I'm happy to be proven wrong here. Authors quite often approach the differences between male and female characters in very stilted ways. 'Men do this' and 'women do that', however the beauty here is that every character is treated as an individual. Their choices are not defined by whether they have breasts or balls. Gender tropes don't normally bother me that much, I grew up with them. I came to accept them as part of reading, always lurking in the background no matter how much you ignore them. But when an author shows the reader it is possible to step beyond these stereotypes its just so, refreshing.

I think this series will be one of my new favourites.
Profile Image for Lisa.
346 reviews533 followers
August 10, 2015
Full Review at Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2015/0...

When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner is reminiscent of Steven Erikson and Glen Cook. I think for readers looking for something new but love some of the older fantasies, this could be a good pick.

When I began this book, I have to confess I expected to love it. But I just can’t say that was the case. I still feel like I should have loved it, there are many great things about this book, but honestly I just didn’t. It was still good, just not as good as I expected or hoped for.

My biggest issue with the book was that somehow I just never found myself fully invested in the story or the characters (with the exception of Parolla). I was interested the other characters and events, but I just never felt completely connected with them and I think this is what held me back from loving the story as much as I wish I could. I do better when I have some emotional investment in the characters I am reading about, and sadly, that just never happened. If this had been a single POV book focusing on Parolla, I think perhaps my reaction may have been more favorable. But, that would have limited the story, and narrowed the perspective of the reader, so it wouldn’t be quite the same story. The frequent changes between POVs may have contributed to my lack of connection with the characters. But, honestly, I think there is little described in the way of emotions either. So it almost became dry, just reading action after action. I know many books are told this way, but the switching from character to character with little emotional attachment just left me, well, wanting a bit more.

For readers that are looking for a more plot driven book or are fans of older fantasy, I do still think this is worth checking out.
Profile Image for Nathan.
399 reviews123 followers
May 20, 2015
Fantasy Review Barn

All roads lead to Rome.

Mayot gets his hands on an object that gives him power to rival the gods. And it is quickly apparent he plans on using it. His presence turns into a magnet for everything to follow; a focal point for the entire cast to converge on for differing reasons. Some know exactly why they are heading to this man while some are driven there by factors beyond their control. But each soul that heads in his direction is drawn in completely; one way or another their fate will be decided in his new magnetism.

I will let you know that this book didn’t hook me right away. There was a D&D feel to some of it, starting with the naming conventions of things like the Forest of Sighs and The Book of Lost Souls. Characters felt wooden and early scene of powers in negotiations didn’t work at all. Toss in a night attack by what can only be described as ninjas and a character speaking in a faux old English accent and my eyes found themselves rolled completely into the back of the head.

But patience in this case was absolutely rewarded. The consistent build up, chapter after chapter, was handled superbly. Power growing and building; Mayot extends his reach a little more with each fight, small or large. And as his power grows the ripples are felt from farther away, leading to even more of the players in this magical world wanting the book he holds for their own. And Mayot’s plans are truly ambitious; it wasn’t until late in the book that I realized just how far he was willing to take this.

This is not a subtle book, it is a book of magic. Mayot will take on wizards, titans and gods. Some try to take, some try to manipulate (my favorite character’s favorite tactic) and some try to negotiate. And did I mention that Mayot’s methods are truly horrible? No? Some are trying to stop him only because his success will lead to things worse than death. When the Heavens Fall is completely about the buildup and the payoff; characters, history of the world, deep themes is not the game here. If you are willing to play along, which I eventually was, then there is little room for disappointment by the end.

Every so often a book does something that catches your eye that maybe isn’t central to the plot, or character, but still seems worth remembering. Turner wrote a book with a cast with a fairly mixed gender representation. Woman and men both act with strong agency. But what caught my eye was a completely lack of gender notice by the narrator. There is a standard practice (made fun of early by Terry Pratchett) that when a female mercenary is introduced a reader is immediately clued in to if this one is a possible love interest based on physical characteristics or not. But the men and women of this world are given the same treatment. Unless a specific character makes note of a physical detail a movie casting could truly be put together with a blank slate. A bit of tangent I know, but the realization hit me and I couldn’t help but mention it.

This was a book I started slow on and had some innate silliness in its set up. But I cannot ignore the buildup that eventually hooked me, nor the fact that the payoff didn’t disappoint. Mark Turner wrote a damn fine book.

4 Stars
Profile Image for Mark Harrison.
683 reviews19 followers
March 25, 2017
Really solid book. Essentially a quest story as four very different characters and their cohorts travel to try and win a Book of the Dead that has brought an army of the dead to life and threatens everyone. It is complex and jumps between the main characters a lot. All of the main characters are well drawn and I was fond of the resolute Guardian Luker and his assassin friend Jenna but the eccentric mage Mottle was by far the most fun. Should be read in long bursts if you can do it do as to keep everything in mind. Really enjoyed the story and the world that was created and very much looking forward to the further volumes of the Chronicles of the Exile. Well worth a place on your book shelves.
Profile Image for Peter.
217 reviews67 followers
June 6, 2016
I would not be the first to say that there has been a real explosion of fantasy literature in the last 5-10 years. Some of it is fantastic and some of it not so good, but we still enjoy reading and talking about it all don't we?

I came across Marc Turner by accident as I follow his UK publisher; Titan on Twitter and on Fantasy Faction there was loud chatter about a new author on the scene. Curious about an author writing a new epic fantasy series called, The Chronicles of the Exile, I purchased a copy.

Despite the fact that "When The Heavens Fall" was published in 2015, this easily one of my books of 2016, a Grimdark epic full of good, bad and grey characters and meddlesome gods (and some who want to be gods, meddlesome mortals), this is epic fantasy for a new generation. The story centers around the theft of a very powerful book, a magical item that belongs to the god of the underworld (who want's it back) and sends out his servants to retrieve it. The book's power ensures that many other parties become interested and converge on the magic that has been unleashed.

This is a powerful work of fantasy in my opinion, the characters are all beautifully drawn out and we learn much about them as the story progresses. There is back story but it is not info dumped on you, it is gradually learned through the characters and Marc handles this brilliantly, this was one of my favorite aspects of his writing as well. The story is epic in it's scope as well, the battles that are fought and the betrayals (you will not expect some), make this an exciting as well as an absorbing read. I keep my reviews spoiler free so I would urge you to read this epic fantasy.

I would thoroughly recommend this to any fan of epic fantasy, I believe that this is the return of something special, a complex epic grimdark fantasy with great characters, superb writing and a epic story to boot, I challenge you to read this and not enjoy it.

Profile Image for Mike.
656 reviews41 followers
June 12, 2015
When the Heavens Fall
by Marc Turner is the author’s debut novel. This is a big swords and sorcery epic that seems to channel a touch of Steven Erikson. The story is catapulted into action by the theft of a magical book that is filled to the brim with magic; the Book of Lost Souls. As the mage who stole the book begins to explore its power over the dead it begins to drawn the attention of gods and men into an epic convergence of power. The story follows several characters from different corners of the world as each is drawn ever towards the book’s power; each for a different reason. Luker, a magic wield swordsman called a Guardian, seeks to find his master who was also on the trail of the book; Romany, a priestess of the Spider is an agent of her Goddess’ machinations; Ebon, a Prince whose home lies close to the site of the convergence seeks to end the book’s effects on his people (mainly in the form of an army of undead); and Parolla a mysterious necromancer whose motivation I don’t want to spoil.

Turner manages to split the novel’s leads equally between genders and surrounds each character with a strong supporting cast. Turner’s female characters are all strong, competent women who stand on their own. Jenna, an assassin and acquaintance of Luker’s is easily pegged as the character’s love interest however Turner does a fantastic job at creating a rich history between the two characters such that their obvious attraction to one another doesn’t feel forced. Further, Luker’s attraction to Jenna is strongly predicated on her competence in her work. Parolla, struggles against hidden currents within herself both with regards to her power and due to the struggles she has faced in her past. Romany is the character who grated the most; at least a first. Vain, and self-centered Romany just rubbed me the wrong way. Romany acts as an agent of the Spider carefully manipulating the various players who converge upon the Book of Lost Souls. However, Turner has a keen hand when it comes to character development and Romany’s growth as the novel progresses is fascinating watch. Ebon and Luker actually felt the most traditional. Luker’s motivation, primarily out of loyalty to the man who trained, cast him as honest and driven. He chooses personal loyalty out any sense of obligation to a government or organization. He is a likeable character who in early chapters feels a bit adrift but who feels like a more complete individual once he has a concrete goal ahead of him. Ebon is that character who could have easily been the most boring of the bunch. However, Turner does an admirable job making Ebon a character who is drawn in a variety of different directions by his sense of loyalty, honor, and responsibility. At one time haunted by the spirits of the dead Ebon is partly motivated by a sense of redemption as he not only seeks to prove himself free of the spirits” influence but also make up for the terrible loss of life that resulted from his rash actions. He is further saddled by his love for a woman below his station. This plot point is one that gets loss in the shuffle and Ebon’s quest in the latter part of the novel doesn’t really draw on this in any meaningful way. Furthermore, as the novel comes to a conclusion and various plot threads are wrapped up Turner never returns to Ebon’s lady love. Ebon’s chapters do introduce my favorite secondary character in the air mage Mottle. The “crazy” wizard character isn’t anything new but Mottle, despite the cliché, manages to walk that fine line between hyper-competence and wackiness with aplomb.

Turner has a rich and interesting world in When the Heavens Fall but provides very little by way of exposition as readers journey through it. He establishes a keen sense of history both recent and ancient over the course of the novel and uses both primarily as a means to drive the action forward. Turner lays out the current status of the Guardians as a once independent organization now under the thumb of an Emperor and now a shadow of their former selves. It is this fact that serves as a driving force of tension in Luker. However, at the same time I never felt particularly confident I knew what the Guardians were precisely. Over the course of the novel readers are introduced to a handful of gods. Shroud, lord of the dead plays a significant role in the novel as does the Spider but both deific figures remain largely inscrutable. It is in this world building that Turner’s Steven Erikson really comes to the fore. Shroud, in name and power, called to mind Erikson’s lord of the dead, Hood. The Spider, while less capricious, reminded me of Erikson’s Shadowthrone. Similarly the complex history of Turner’s world particularly the mysterious ancient empires, and beings with ancient enmity called to mind elements of the Malazan Book of the Fallen I was particularly reminded of the rivalry between the T’lan Imass and Jaghut.

When the Heavens Fall is an excellent start to a new series. While the novel wears its inspirations quite visibly on its shoulder it is never enough to take away from Turner’s strong characterization and masterful juggling of plot and action. Turner has a tendency to stick with show over tell and When the Heavens Fall is one of those novels where I actually wish there was a touch more tell. I am hoping that in further novels Turner works towards further originality and find a voice that is more clearly his own. Regardless, fans of swords and sorcery and epic fantasy will definitely find a lot to life here.
Profile Image for Eduardo Schimitt.
87 reviews42 followers
July 10, 2015
Review in portuguese

Esse livro é um prato cheio para os fãs de fantasia clássica dos anos 80 e 90 e para os fãs de Steven Erikson. É evidente a influencia que o Marc Turner teve dos livros do Steven Erikson e do Joe Abercrombie, os personagens são ricos e cheios de qualidades e defeitos - enfim humanos e a narrativa não te entrega nada de mão beijada, você literalmente tem que ficar prestando atenção no que está acontecendo o tempo inteiro, caso contrario você vai acabar boiando na história.

A premissa do livro é bem simples, um artefato necromântico poderosíssimo - "The Book of Lost Souls" - foi roubado de uma ordem de magos dedicada a guarda-lo do mundo e, com isso toda sorte de pessoas e deuses decidem ir atrás do ladrão e pegar o livro para si.

Somos então apresentados aos quatro personagens principais, cada um com seus próprios motivos para ir atrás do livro; Luker Essandar, um dos guardiões de Erin Elal - uma ordem de guerreiros que conta com uma forma de magia extremamente versátil chamada simplesmente de "Will" - é enviado pelo Imperador do país para rastrear e tomar o livro, só tem um problema Luker não tem a menor intenção de prosseguir com a missão... Ebon é o rei de um país sitiado pelas hordas de mortos vivos convocados pelo mago que roubou o livro e que parte em busca do livro para salvar o seu povo, Parolla é uma feiticeira poderosissima que carrega em seu sangue um poder incontrolavel e que tem uma missão de vingança contra Shroud, deus da morte e dono original do livro e Romany, uma sacerdotisa da deusa "Spider" e que tem seus proprios motivos para auxiliar Mayot Mencada - o mago que roubou o livro. Dentre os personagens vale a pena destacar alguns dos secundarios, as interações entre a assassina Jenna e Luker são um dos pontos altos do livro, e o mago Mottle que serve à Ebon lembra muito Kruppe, um dos meus personagens favoritos de Malazan.

Enfim, o livro vale muito a pena pois pega um dos generos clássicos da fantasia - Sword and Sorcery - e lhe dá uma roupagem atual.
Profile Image for Patremagne.
220 reviews69 followers
May 26, 2015
4.3 I'd say.


The Book of Lost Souls, an ancient relic guarded closely by a circle of mages for centuries, has been stolen by the rogue mage Mayot Mencada through the subtle directive of the goddess Spider. The Book gives its wielder immense necromantic power, and Mayot’s ambition knows no bounds as he openly challenges the god Shroud’s rule over the underworld by raising the ancient dead and lashing out at any settlement near the Forest of Sighs, the cursed forest he has made his base of operations.

The Book emits massively powerful rays of death magic, attracting all manner of other beings. Luker, a Guardian of Erin Elal and a man forced to take on the quest by the very people who betrayed him; Ebon, a prince of Galitia deeply haunted by spirits following a foolhardy expedition into the Forest of Sighs; Romany, a high priestess of the Spider commanded to play the game by her goddess; Parolla, a powerful necromancer with an incredibly mysterious past with an unstoppable drive to confront Shroud for deeds past. Of the four, Parolla easily took the cake for the most interesting and the one whose chapters I was always chomping at the bit for. Ebon followed closely behind Parolla in interest level, as he consistently struggles on the brink of insanity in both his own eyes and those around him. Luker is the stereotypical grizzled war veteran, and it felt like Romany got the least face time, though the things that she did were of import. Each character was developed deftly, but Parolla and Ebon overshadowed Luker and Romany in my interest level.

Alongside these protagonists, the disciples of Shroud and the followers of the Hunt are at the fore, the former at the bidding of their lord and the latter in pursuit of one who has angered their god. Shroud’s disciples each make spectacular entrances. I felt the way I did while reading parts of Malazan, when Anomander Rake or any of the awesomely powerful characters did something. They simply leave you thinking holy shit, that was awesome.

Comparisons are a curious thing. There’s no surprise that When the Heavens Fall has been compared to Erikson’s Malazan, since Turner cites Erikson as a major influence. Whenever you find people looking for recommendations, you’ll see the same books repeated over and over so many times that it’s hard not to imagine the recommender giving a deep sigh, pulling a scroll from their pocket, and rattling off the go-to genre names. More often yet, these insta-recommendations often don’t have anything more than the basic fantasy tenets in common with the book in question. Turner’s debut is one of the very few books that I can safely and wholly recommend to fans of Erikson. In fact, it’s common in so many ways that it’s probably easier to point out its differences (the only glaring one being that there are fewer main characters in Turner’s). The most prominent similarities are probably the magic and the richness, or even over-richness of the world. I say over-richness because while reading both Malazan and When the Heavens Fall, there are a ton of names of people, races both ancient and modern, events, and objects that it’s staggeringly difficult to keep track of at times. It’s only fitting that both authors’ works have detailed maps and dramatis personae to help out the overwhelmed reader (though a list of terms would have been nice). The magic is the highlight of both series for me. Sometimes it’s very descriptive and visceral like Turner’s death magic, and other times both series simply describe it as sorcery a la “waves of sorcery stripped the flesh from his bones.” The only clear, black-and-white difference between the two is that Mayot Mencada is without a doubt the bad guy, whereas Malazan doesn’t necessarily have one so clearly defined.

While When the Heavens Fall is a bit slow to get going, Turner’s writing will have you hook, line, and sinker the way he builds up the story and the sense of foreboding as the Book of Lost Souls pulses greater and greater power from its pages. It’s a tale of convergence no doubt, and the further I read, the more I could tell shit was going down real soon, and when it all hit the fan there was no stopping. Seriously, I tried to stop three separate times toward the end so that I could do mundane things like eat or go out, and each time I closed the book and stood up, I sat right back down and kept on going, straight through to the thrilling conclusion.
Profile Image for Trent.
306 reviews41 followers
March 28, 2017
This was a very interesting read. The best way I can describe it is:

- Worldbuilding as insane as Malazan: I chose the word 'INSANE' for a reason. This world is enormous; so much so that I often couldn't keep track of it. So many races and creatures and gods that it sort of made my head spin! Thankfully, unlike Malazan, the reader's ultimate enjoyment of the story isn't dependent on remembering every detail of the world.

- A story that reminds me of a great RPG: The plot is actually pretty simple; it's a tale of convergence. A power hungry mage steals an ancient tome that will give him control over the undead. He sets up shop in a forest haunted by a long-extinct culture wiped out via genocide. (A perfect place for a necromancer to find minions, basically.) Obviously, the mage's deeds do not go unnoticed, and we follow the story of four very different characters that are seeking out the mage (and the book he holds) for very different reasons.

- Characters that feel ripped right out of a Joe Abercrombie novel: None of them are what you would call 'Good'; they have complex motivations and backgrounds, and for me, the real joy of this book was learning more about them (especially Parolla).

Overall, this book is up and down. Sometimes it's confusing and hard to follow and a bit overwhelming. But it's at it's best when you are learning about the fascinating world through the eyes of some truly great characters.

Also, the magic system is amazing and leads to some truly ridiculous battles.

This is a really good debut novel, but like a lot of debuts, it sometimes feels like the author is trying to do too much. I was very happy to see that the next two novels are a bit shorter and more focused. I'm very excited to continue this series. Recommended for sure!
Profile Image for Allison.
489 reviews186 followers
June 9, 2015
A very nice (but not ~nice~) fantasy debut.

The most solid part of the writing was definitely Turner's feel for setting. Without going overboard, the descriptions of ruined temples and forests of undead were vivid enough to make me feel as if I were playing several levels of a Diablo game. It definitely felt more like a world-driven fantasy than a character-driven one, and given the right ingredients, I'm sometimes fine with that. This was one of those times.

As a huge fan of big and bad, and preferably old as hell, villains and monsters, this did not disappoint. The convergence of power ("power draws power") towards the end of each novel was always one of my favorite things about the Malazan series. Here the convergence takes place over MOST of the book, revealing dozens of overpowered (I mean that in a positive way, don't worry) creatures and elder races battling it out for possession of a powerful tome. Like Hunger Games on acid plus Balrogs-with-more-fire-and-swords (tiktars) and a scaly, rot-dealing mistress (literally) of Death. And did I mention the army of undead pulled from the entire population an ancient city?

The world-building was also intriguing, with non-human races and long-dead civilizations tossed in the mix. There are hints of more locales to be explored and fleshed out, more elder races to get on the bad side of (the Falangar should consider group therapy), and hopefully more ancient relics to be misused. The magic system was fairly straightforward (elemental magic, death magic, spirit magic) and I loved the magical battles throughout.

I enjoyed the characters, but I didn't find myself particularly concerned when any of them were in imminent danger (with one exception, which I'll get to). Luker was a little too much a of a Cool Guy for me to invest emotionally in him, but I did love his ace-in-the-hole, Jenna. I found Romany's chapters equal parts fun and annoying, and I wish I had liked Parolla more, though she did get a few feels out of me with her backstory. Ebon though....Ebon was one of those Good Characters who I actually LIKED, which almost never happens. He had his faults, but generally he was a good guy who wanted to do right by his kingdom and the woman he loves and everyone he meets. Don't worry, not as cloying as it sounds. (He's giving me a Trull Sengar vibe, so I know he'll be killed off later.)

I do wonder just how much bigger and badder everything in this world can get. I hope too much hasn't been revealed too soon.

(And thank you to Macmillan/Tor for the galley copy! ^__^)
Profile Image for James Schmidt.
103 reviews22 followers
February 5, 2017
My review today is for:

When the Heavens Fall: The Chronicles of the Exile, Book One

by Marc Turner

A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

I have been meaning to read this book forever it seems but something always got in the way, another book, another review request, always something. I finally put everything else on hold and read it and I sure am glad I did. I immediately feel in love with this book. I felt so at home with this story and characters. This book had a old school Fantasy feel but not worn out, still was fresh and new. I honestly was very surprised at how much I truly loved this book.

I had read and heard many great things about this book and series, but I was skeptical it was my kind of book. That can be put to rest right now because this book was fantastic. I was able to get right into this world and all of its mythology, many fascinating characters, and a story that grabbed me and left me wanting to jump right into the sequel. Which I am planning on doing very soon.

In conclusion I highly recommend this book, and series. I have very high hopes for the next few books as I have heard they keep getting better. I have seen where this series is a throw back to 80’s – 90’s Fantasy and even compared to Malazan! I can see both points but this book was unique in it’s own right even with these favorable comparisons. I can’t wait to read and review the next two books of this series. Marc Turner has provided a stunning debut to this series, and I am a big fan.

As you know if you have read my reviews before I am not about long reviews with synopsis and spoilers. I just give my opinion on my experience with this book and you can take it from there. Now on to the next book.

4/5 STARS - MightyThorJRS

You can find all of my reviews here: https://mightythorjrs.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew). .
296 reviews617 followers
February 17, 2016
When The Heavens Fall book review:

To me, there are 3 types of book. The books that pull you in right from the start and don't let go until the ending, the books that take you a while to get into but somewhere within the story turn into must reads and then there's the books that pull you in right away but ultimately you end up being disappointing in them.

For me this was the type of book that took me a while to really get into. The start was interesting but in the beginning it was just something for me to read, then about 100 pages in it went from a book I read merely to kill the time, to a book I became fully engrossed in and the locations (I read it on Kindle) and time just flew by whenever I had the chance to read.

The book reminded me of Steve Erikson's Malazan series and to me there can't be a higher compliment than that comparison as Malazan is one of my all time favourite fantasy book series.

The world building is well thought out, in depth and complex while the cast of characters are all well developed, interesting and engaging. Add them together and along with an intriguing, well written story you get a must read book.

A great, engrossing, high quality start to a new epic fantasy series, highly recommended!
Profile Image for Vaelin.
293 reviews49 followers
October 31, 2017
An excellent read for all fans of dark fantasy. Really wish I hadn't waited so long to read it but on the plus side there are 2 more books available in the series to date...very keen to see where the story goes next!
Profile Image for Laura Hughes.
Author 4 books254 followers
August 16, 2015
I both love it and hate it when I enjoy the first book in a new series. I love it because I have the thrill of knowing that even when I reach the last page there’s still plenty more where that came from . . . and I hate it because what do you mean I have to wait until next year for the second one?!

After just a few pages I knew that the Chronicles of the Exile would be (yet another) series I’d be following. I’d seen this book reviewed on several blogs I follow, and was completely pulled in by the overwhelmingly positive comments as well as numerous comparisons to Steven Erikson (my favourite author) and Glen Cook. And I can totally see where these comparisons are coming from. For a start there’s a whole host of crazy-powerful supernatural beings, the understated yet chilling descriptions of which strongly reminded me of the Taken in Cook’s Black Company. Then there are the sort of quirky, rock-hard, darkly humorous characters you’d expect to find dwelling in Erikson’s Malazan series, not to mention long-lost ancient races and interfering gods using the world as their own personal chess board. And there’s also a dark, gritty undertone – the sort of grimdark sensation that none of the characters are ever going to catch a break – that put me in mind of Joe Abercrombie’s excellent First Law trilogy.

But, as easy as it is to say “fans of Cook/Erikson/Abercrombie will love this book,” When the Heavens Fall is not as easily pigeonholed as that. Turner has taken many much-loved aspects of these kinds of fantasy and has used them to embellish rather than define his own work; a sort of homage as opposed to a blueprint. While admittedly it was these kinds of parallels that drew me in from the beginning, the thing that actually kept me reading was the patient and gradual build-up to a final convergence which, while not quite as climactic as I’d hoped, was nonetheless well-done and satisfying. The climax itself and the form it will take is deliberately signposted right from the beginning, but the routes by which our characters arrive there are sufficiently twisted that, while we can guess what will happen, we’re entirely unable to predict how it will happen. Having the entire plot of the novel building up to a single moment is somewhat risky – especially with sequels on the horizon – but I found it refreshing, a bold change from the many sprawling fantasy epics I usually read. The author uses the alternating points-of-view of a small handful of characters to great effect, switching between them at varying points within each chapter to build momentum and create tension. I personally found all four point-of-view characters to be unfathomable and unpredictable: while this meant that I didn’t quite connect with the characters as much as I would have liked, it did keep me constantly guessing what they would do next, with many pleasant (and nasty!) surprises as a result.

Yes, When the Heavens Fall is somewhat slow to begin with. But once it gets going there’s no stopping it; and it really gets going once it hits the halfway point. There’s a notable change of pace at around the two-fifty page-mark, and the story shifts up several gears from the moment the characters’ stories first begin to overlap. The characters themselves are compelling if not always sympathetic: a particular favourite of mine is Romany, the self-indulgent-yet-badass high priestess whose witty and irreverent verbal exchanges are a constant source of entertainment. The big climax is enjoyable if slightly drawn out, and for every problem resolved there are another ten questions still needing answers: the author has done a great job of making his readers clamour for the next book without quite leaving us on a cliffhanger.

What do you mean I have to wait until next year for the second one?!
Profile Image for Victoria.
2,512 reviews53 followers
May 30, 2015
I have been a huge fan of epic fantasy novels since first discovering Lloyd Alexander's books as a child. It is so exciting to discover a new world with adventures to follow, so when I first read this description of a mysterious book being opened drawing the attention of an entire land of both mortals and non-mortals and the living and the dead it sounded so promising. And ultimately became so disappointing. I understand that world-building is complex and difficult and can really lead to a slower read. To combat this, Turner chooses to throw the reader right in with plenty of references that will confuse the reader and to not hesitate to keep the characters moving forward - and towards this convergence point - at all costs. Even patiently giving it a hundred pages, I still felt lost and not connected to any of the characters. They are so shallowly drawn with little insight into their own pasts and motivations that it's hard to muster up the caring. On top of this, every time there is a hint of connection to a character, the scene shifts to another set of characters. Though Turner includes a cast list, what I really wanted was just more exposition into these characters - and maybe a glossary instead of a character list, as they were all relatively interchangeable in motivation. By the time more of their pasts emerge, it is too little too late. I wish that I hadn't slogged through the five hundred plus pages... I wish that I had put it aside when I first wanted to.

The plot does keep moving - physically with all of the journeying - but with murky motivations in an unclear landscape, it is just hard to muster up any caring about the outcomes for any of the characters. A successful epic fantasy relies on not only the unique details, but also on realistic characters - people or creatures that you can care about. Some of the supporting characters like Mottle or the ghost of the four-armed demon are more sympathetic, but offer such a small portion of the book that they aren't enough to redeem it. Really, nothing redeemed this one for me... it may not be poorly written on a technical scale, but it does feel heartlessly written. Needless to say, I won't be continuing on with this trilogy.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews221 followers
January 1, 2018
The review will be highly Malazan-centric since there's a lot of parallels and the author himself has recognized Erikson as a major influence. There's also a lot of parallel characters: Hood/Shroud, Ardata/Spider, Antler God/Beast Gods......That does not mean the personality traits of these gods or their goals are the same.

The writing style and plot layout are much more Esslemont than Erikson. Things are generally laid out in a straightforward manner not laced with subtext and portents of things to comes hundreds of thousands of pages later. In comparing Turner's writing to that of Esslemont's first book Night of Knives it's not even close in calling Turner the victory in terms of prose. His writing style is so much cleaner and more eloquent. Esslemont didn't develop a style approaching this until later in Empire.

The major problem with this book is pacing. It starts out good and finishes well but the middle we are left waiting for things to happen. Time and again after a point of view change I thought what was the point of that sequence to the storyline?

This is a very good first book and I'll continue with the author and the series but it's far from a perfect first book. I think if you're an epic fantasy fan and especially a Malazan fan you should give this a shot and keep an open mind about the series parallels.
Profile Image for Trevor Sherman.
229 reviews21 followers
September 13, 2016
I had been hearing good things about this series for a while and really wanting to read it. So instead of patiently waiting till it was on top of my "to be read' pile I pushed the pile over and grabbed it. So glad I did But now I will be even further behind on my stack as ill push everything else out of the way Again when the next book gets here. For a Novel as broad of scope as this it took me a remarkably short amount of time to understand the world building, but at the same time it was not generic fantasy tropes at all. and that is something to be treasured.
Good dialog and pacing of the story was just about perfect. Over all I highly recommend this! Thanks for the great story Marc
Profile Image for Frank.
746 reviews21 followers
June 16, 2017
3.5 Stars.
No spoilers.
This first book of a trilogy, is a traditional typed high fantasy, where we have numerous story lines, of groups of, or singular (Luker, a Guardian, Ebon a Prince, Parolla a necromancer, and Romany a High Priestess) characters involved in search of a mage who has stolen The Book of Lost Souls and with that he is trying to take over as the Lord of the Dead.
Each is in search of this book and the mage, Mayot for different reasons.
What happens when they all converge?
Things seemed quite solved by the end of this book, so i am curious what the next book will bring.
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