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The Wrack

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Plague has come to the continent of Teringia.

As the Wrack makes its slow, relentless march southwards, it will humble kings and healers, seers and merchants, priests and warriors. Behind, it leaves only screams and suffering, and before it, spreads only fear.

Lothain, the birthplace of the Wrack, desperately tries to hold itself together as the plague burns across it and
Published (first published April 23rd 2020)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  173 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Nick Borrelli
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
First of all, let's get to the elephant in the room shall we? This book is about a plague that ravages a city, an empire, and the land that surrounds it. Interesting timing to say the least, but one that we cannot fault the author for. He himself even comments on the awkward coincidence of releasing his book during these awful and uncertain times. Be that as it may, it has no bearing on the story itself once you immerse yourself in the fantasy world that John Bierce has created. Honestly, as I g ...more
Stjepan Cobets
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
My rating 4.6

The fantasy book “The Wrack” by John Bierce surprised me with a story because there is no single protagonist, the main antihero is The Wrack disease which is slowly destroying the world in which the plot of the book is set. But I read the book with enthusiasm and I liked the story. The point of the whole plot is that the whole world can be destroyed regardless of beliefs and differences among empires, and that small people can do great things. When one empire falls, other empires in
Elizabeth Tabler
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
John Bierce's The Wrack is an exciting and unique take on a fantasy novel. You don't read many fantasy novels that take on the plague as a plot point. Science Fiction, sure. Urban fantasy, occasionally. But not a pure fantasy novel. That is why this novel was such a treat to read for me. When I started reading it for the tour, I almost had to put it down. I have avoided apocalyptic/disease type novels, if you will forgive me, like the plague. They are usually too much with the state of the world ...more
Graham Austin-King
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: spfbo6, fantasy
I was pretty excited to get started with The Wrack. The concept sounded good: a mysterious plague devastating a fantasy world, the cover was a decent standard and the author already had a number of books under his belt, so I felt reasonably secure that the editing would be a good standard.

In many ways I was right in all my assumptions. The Wrack is both an interesting, and a very different book. When I read the description on Goodreads, I knew it was going to be a darker story, and I was not dis
Alyssa (Intotheheartwyld)
When I initially picked this up, the idea and the plot synopsis caught my attention, a plague is running rampant in this fantasy world, and people are dying at tremendous speeds.

I'm going to be honest here, I started skipping chapters, I got bored, this became a literal chore for me to read. I very quickly lost interest the minute the plot stopped focusing on the plague and started heavily focusing on the world building. Only one other time have I ever felt like i was being burdened by too much
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Beta reader*

A very different book compared to Mage Errant series. Set in the same multiverse, but this is a standalone and doesn't need any prior info.

The writing is easy to read and follow as usual. Cool new magic system. A mystery, with clues and misdirections. Plenty of emotional chapters and gut-wrenching scenes, with hope intermingled. There's a pandemic going in the real world, so by the time the book releases, readers would be very aware and nodding to happenings in The Wrack. I had a ha
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I want to begin by first acknowledging how truly eerie it must have been to be writing and releasing a book in tandem with the beginnings of an actual global pandemic. I can only imagine how strange that must have been.

And while this book is about a global epidemiological event, the Wrack itself is not a virus but a zoonotic parasite. We can take comfort in the thin veil of separation that this difference provides! All joking aside, this was an engaging read not just for its correlation with re
Kayla Kurin
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An interesting read and especially relevant to our current climate! Very different than the mage errant series but enjoyed getting to visit the world again in a different context!
The Coycaterpillar Reads
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Wrack gives us the topical insight of a plague that wreaks havoc throughout a fantasy world. I’m a bit of a freak in a way that I have enjoyed reading about plagues/pandemics whilst living through one. The format that it was told in was refreshing and thought provoking. Multiple POV’s that give us a snapshot of lives, some are cut short and some last several chapters. The plague pays no attention to stature, race or social class. It takes no prisoners, but it will cause insurmountable amount ...more
Ollie Bowdoin
What a read! I would like to say how impressed I was with the style and layout of the book. As you probably already know, this book involves a mysterious pandemic called “The Wrack” , a name the derives from a sort of seaweed that washes up on the shore in this fantasy world, according to a few characters who were wondering why it was called that. It is a monster of a book for just over 230 pages. The worldbuilding was masterful and complete, which I’m sure is a hard task when the story shifts f ...more
22 Oct 2020

Plot: Plague sweeps across fantasy planet. There are Consequences.

CW: Plague.

1. This is a large-scale, politically focused version of the Fantasy Plague. I would have loved it even if it was in a smaller scale because fantasy plague is one of my favorite concepts. But this was both very new and very fun.

2. The Wrack tells this large-scale story through multiple narrators from all over the continent it's focusing on. Some of the narrators don't get more than one pov, which leaves a lot
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent example of character driven fantasy, well written with a good story as well. Check out my full review on my blog as part of the Storytellers on Tour blog tour next week!
Rebecca (Medusa's Rock Garden)
I liked the Mage Errant series, but this was something else. This book is of course about a plague sweeping through a world, beginning in one city and the spreading out to the whole nation, the neighbouring nations, and maybe beyond. And when I say that the book is about a plague, I mean that. The plague, The Wrack, is the main focus of the story.

We have no true main character. We have a few characters who are POV more than once, but they are not really MCs imo. I didn't count them, but there h
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it

What a time to be reading about a plague that ravages a land while, in reality, the same thing is happening all around us. Though the two (2) differ in many ways, it isn’t an “easy” read on top of the sheer impossibility to read anything with the overwhelming pandemic that continues to ravage the world. The timing, though it seems a bit odd, even pushes the author to add a note at the beginning about awkward coincidences, but we can’t, nor should we, fault Bierce for releasing his novel in
Kriti | Armed with A Book
The Wrack offers an in-depth look at the different key players in such dangerous times, adding in the aspect of religion whose narrative is not as prevalent in our media. The book starts off on an ominous tone and this continues throughout the story. Through multiple characters, whether it is the priests, the healers, the king and queen, the courtiers, children of the common people or captain of a ship – everyone is affected by the Wrack in some form and this book is the story of their confusion ...more
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars: An interesting approach to a fantasy novel, this book is about the progression of an unknown plague told through a series of short snippets set in a well crafted fantasy universe. Much like how lives are cut short and responsibilities transferred prematurely in a time of plague, sometimes the snippets are threads carried through a few chapters, and other times they are left to stand alone, leaving you wondering what became of it's subjects. As a whole, it weaves a compelling thread th ...more
This is an interesting fantasy take on a pandemic. I loved the concept of the world, especially the magic system, with the focusing crystals, the hierarchy and the communication system, and there seemed to be loads of potential for political intrigue.

Unfortunately the story itself seemed a bit haphazard, jumping from place to place and not quite connecting. The plot seemed to take second place to world building exposition, whilst characters settled way in third. I really loved getting to know se
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A powerful and troubling read. I enjoyed Bierce's other works a lot, but they didn't prepare me for how great a story this would be. He's truly stepped up his game. This tale of a mysterious pandemic comes at an interesting time, and I'm curious as to whether it will be a net positive or negative for the book that it releases during our own pandemic. For me, it helped provide an extra emotional punch. ...more
Zandt McCue
Plague stories don't particularly interest me. You would think they would with the abundant deaths and misery. I haven't come across too many. The best I can think of would be Mask of the Red Death by Poe. I'd seen Outbreak once in Middle School and have never watched Contagion. I don't go hunting them down is what I'm trying to say. My willingness to read this one was because it sounded different from everything I've read in recent years. A plague set in a fantasy world that didn't revolve arou ...more
David Lodin Doyle
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What can I say except: Wow.

The care and attention to detail that went into writing this is incredible. The peoples, their traditions, how individuals conform to and buck their traditions. Places having deep histories, and that being conveyed expertly. It all comes together, giving the sense of this being real.

What I want to praise most is the beautiful handling of loss. The Wrack is a disease that brings about tragedy on a mass scale. But the author made sure not to lose sight of how it affects
Kait Headtotoes
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book.
The many vignettes of characters throughout this story were a very refreshing way to learn this world the author builds. I'm especially into slice-of-life stories and really enjoyed reading them within this fantasy world. There were a handful of main characters we get to follow through this story and each time the story left off I couldn't wait to get back to their story but was immediately immersed in the next story! I was pulled through and intrigued the whole time.
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm one of those people that enjoys disaster fic, post-apocalypse, and dystopian fic during stressful times. The Wrack hit the right balance between plausibly frightening with its realistic depiction of the spread of pandemic and the hope of people surviving and making better. Bierce is unflinching in portraying the onset and effects of the Wrack but never lingers in a way that feels like trauma porn. I particularly enjoyed seeing how the lives of many different people in the setting's different ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
A unique, immersive, weird, interesting fantasy full to the brim with world building.

Full review coming next week as part of the Storytellers on Tour blog tour. Stay tuned!
Ryan Creasey
Jul 03, 2020 rated it liked it
This was an interesting read, as well as being very timely in its material. One of its greatest strengths is the perspective given from a large number of characters. The narrative outlook and various views and opinions of each character made the story interesting and gave it heart. However, this also worked against the story in many places. Huge amounts of information and background were given only for a person to never be mentioned again. I found myself struggling to adapt to the world building ...more
Differently  Abled Mother
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Top notch , well written . A little too cryptic sometimes but I loved it all the same . I love mystery and not being spoon fed the information. I could have read a whole book per chapter because each was its own story and so so good .
Francis Blair
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What's more fun than living through a plague? Reading about one, of course! Plus we've got a rich world with dynamic, changing politics, an awesome scrying-based magic system, and a whole host of characters than range from the endearing to the tragic. There's a whole range of beautiful stories told here, all through the lens of a world that is coming to terms with something so much larger than itself. ...more
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
DNF for me at about the halfway mark. It had its moments, but I just really found myself trying to force myself to read more rather than being excited to read more.

I'll admit from the get-go that it may very well just be a me-thing. I'm not sure that I've ever read something that's so NOT character-driven, and maybe that just means that style isn't for me rather than this book being bad or anything. There's recurring characters that appear here and there, but you're typically bouncing around to
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
I really like the premise of this book. A lot of it was very well done.

But it also had a lot of problems. We get thrown into the world REALLY fast. Maybe I'm just stupid, but I did not find a world map? This made various distances and places somewhat challenging. We're given a huge range of cultures, but we're not really given a lot of history or backstory for a lot of them, at least on the same level we're given in the Mage Errant series. There's no Alustin explaining things for his students,
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of Epidemi… that word that I’d have to copy and paste to spell… Fantasy before, and so this was my very first dive into this subgenre! It was FASCINATING! Most Fantasy books focus on characters or a quest, so I started reading this book with that as my loose expectation. I was wrong. The structure of this book is uniquely situated so that each chapter reads like a short story, and those short stories follows the plague! There are characters who reappear as the story develops, b ...more
Jul 09, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish
This was a DNF for me. I stopped at Chapter 2. I thought that the book started off relatively strong. We follow a doctor as he tries to save the first victim of the plague. It was interesting to read the different reactions to this new plague and what the characters of the novel thought of it. But, with Chapter 2, the story grinded to a halt. All of a sudden, the reader is given a long-winded and detailed info-dump on Semaphores, which I believe is something used in this world for communication, ...more
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John Bierce is a fantasy novelist, history and science buff, SFF fan, and general all-around dork. He is currently traveling the world as a digital nomad, but spends a lot more time observing the urban ecology of drainage ditches in other countries than visiting glamorous tourist destinations. (Did you know that Southeast Asia has freshwater crabs? Who are apparently fantastic parents, unlike basi ...more

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