Johan Haneveld's Reviews > De laatste tocht

De laatste tocht by Joost Uitdehaag
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really liked it

Close to 4,5 stars. I wrote a very enthusiastic review of the first book in this duology a year ago. Then it was one of the first original Dutch fantasy novels I had read. Due to having read one or two clunkers in the past my expectations were not very high, but this book suprised me by its strong story, powerful characterisation and being well written and heartfelt. It encouraged me to check out more work by Dutch fantasy authors. Now I have a clearer view of the genre in the Netherlands, have discovered some talents active in the field, and my expectations have risen too because of that. Was my enthusiasm for the first book due to nog having read more by Dutch fantasists? I am happy to report this is not the case, as this duology is comparable with the best the genre has to offer, inside or outside the Netherlands. This deserves to be translated, due to its worldbuilding and unique threat - a world tottering on the brink of a total apocalypse, caused by the insectoid Mirrax. The protagonists, Fulia and Eymee are human, with human flaws and brokenness, but desire to do the right thing. They were very engaging. It opens with a very well written, intense battle scene, where you are in the melee with the protagonists, and every death has weight. A strong start. Then there is a very powerful conclusion to the book - I don't want to spoil it here, but after a harrowing journey through Mirrax infested country to the last fortress of the Covenant, where the reduced armies of the west hope to find succour, the threat turns out to be different than expected, with a bit of horror mixed in. And once again I found in the book a deep felt message about the division and hatred we bring with us ourselves, threatening our environment even in times of hardship, and how this influences not only our societies, but also the world. Only by sacrifice and forgiveness can broken people find a way forward. I liked the sympathetic portrayal of religion (though not uncomplicated), and was sad the book was over. I still think this is one of the best Dutch fantasy books I know, but I have a couple of small issues that keep it from being five stars in my mind. First I thought the story (even with the surprises at the end) to be a little too linear to my taste (but on the other hand: that keeps things relatively simple!). Also I thought the amount of names and invented words (neologisms) kept me at a distance from the text. The book provides a lexicon, but I sometimes thought words were invented for things that could just as easily have been explained or said in Dutch. I'm not convinced it was needed, and it didn't really work for me. At last I thought the emotions of the characters switching between extremes a bit much - but maybe this is realistic due to the extreme circumstances, I don't know. I will say though that these were very small foibles, that did not keep me from enjoying the book. This will be a duology I will return to in the near future, as it's a warm, well written story full of wonder and humanity, and I look forward to whatever Joost decides to write next!
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Reading Progress

September 3, 2016 – Started Reading
September 3, 2016 – Shelved
September 7, 2016 – Finished Reading

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