I am not a huge fan of fantasy books and so this was a bit different for me and to be honest I was a little reluctant!
Vic James is a well-known author, having written a number of best sellers and has a well-established fan base.
This is the third book in a Trilogy about a longstanding war against the powerful Equals – The Jenner family, who rule the country and the Commoner Rebels – Luke, Merryweather and Abi amongst others in London and surrounding countryside. This book is packed with Kings, dragons, marbled figures including a 3 headed griffins, danger, magic and death.
To begin with; it was a little disconcerting not knowing what had happened in the previous books. Not having read the background with many complex relationships and characters did make it difficult to keep up with the fast paced plot. As I became more familiar with the characters and places, this became less of an issue though. Surprisingly I did become engrossed in the story of prisoners, escape, torture and magic/skills. The complexity of the plot with espionage, explosions and the danger of the chase was adrenaline provoking!
It did follow a familiar story line to others that I have read – such as the powerful ruling the poor subordinates and battles to try to overcome good vs evil. As a result I felt at times it was somewhat predictable. James’s writing however, creates characters with compassion, kindness and truth which offered the reader some hope of a positive outcome for the humans involved. Sadly I felt the conclusion predictable and somewhat lacking considering how complex the rest of the book had been. It did not offer explanations for some of the characters and I was left feeling frustrated, that it was unfinished or rushed, which was regrettable.
The narrative is very complex and clever with vivid descriptions to enable the reader to develop a colourful image of the plot. James’s ability to draw the reader in, even a reluctant one, is remarkable.
I’m still not an avid fan of fantasy, but James has an amazing ability to explore and describe complex plots, characters and relationships, so that the reader cannot help but be drawn in. I am sure others will really enjoy reading the adventures of Abi, Merryweather, Luke and Silyan but I would recommend reading the complete series to have a fulfilling reading experience.
Bright Ruin is published by Pan Macmillan and is available here.
Vic James is a current affairs TV director who loves stories in all their forms. Her programmes for BBC1 have covered the 2016 US presidential election and Britain’s EU referendum. She has also twice judged The Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. Gilded Cage is her first novel, and an early draft won a major online award from Wattpad for most talked about Fantasy. She has lived in Rome, Tokyo, and now London.
Reviewed by Amanda Brightman
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