Good evening party people! It’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve just finished this self published fantasy story by Zack Argyle. It was a SPFBO finalist novel but is it a winner for me? Read on to find out…
Some information about this book:
- Genre: Fantasy
- Release date: March 1st 2020
- Page count: 378
- Series: Threadlight (#1)
While preparing for the birth of his first child, Chrys Valerian is tasked with uncovering the group responsible for a series of missing threadweavers–those able to see and manipulate threadlight. With each failure, the dark voice in his head grows louder, begging to be released.A young girl from a secret city in the center of the Fairenwild veers off course to explore the streets of Alchea. She never expected that her journey would end in chains.Far in the deserts to the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.When Chrys learns who is responsible for the missing threadweavers, they come for him and his family. He must do everything in his power to protect those he loves, even if it means trusting strangers or, worse, the dark voice in his mind.Together, they will change the world–whether they intend to or not.
I first picked up a copy of Voice of War when it went on sale through a tweet by Zack on Twitter. I had heard a lot about it from the book community, some big hype on The Oasis Discord (link on main page) and of course the book was a SPFBO (Mark Lawrence’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition) finalist which helps make it stand out since this is voted for from fantasy bloggers. Once I picked it up, it sat there, like many other stories, on my Kindle until recently when I picked up the audiobook to go with it – then I dived in and wished I’d done it much sooner.
“Self-betterment is the rarest form of ambition.”
I’d like to start with the audiobook first. Now, I’m not the best person to listen to one. I am ridiculously fidgety and distracted by anything and everything, however, Adam Gold does a fantastic job of breathing life into the characters and maintaining the pace of this story as you listen. I think with audiobooks a narrator is even more important possibly than the story itself, at least initially because if people don’t like the person reading them the story they’re much less likely to see it through and worse, it might put them off the actual story, even if it’s a good one.
“With two strokes of a pen, any man can change torture into fortune.”
Zack has created here what I like to call a ‘fantasy package’. He has built a world and magic system from scratch meaning that none of this story is based off of real places in our actual world, it’s purely from his imagination. I love it when authors do this because it means you have a whole world to explore and with this being a trilogy, I am genuinely excited to see what happens next. The locations, the fauna and flora, the laws, the hierarchy, weaponry, allegiances and more are all here to be discovered for the first time.
I liked how the story started, slowly but bringing you into the world with new information on every chapter. This allowed me to picture the different locations, the people and most interestingly, the magic system in my mind without feeling too overwhelmed with all of the moving pieces. I really like the whole prophecy backdrop and loved where Zack took the characters as each felt different (there are three POVs).
I felt the characters had a good depth to them and I could understand their motives. They feel like they have more to offer as the story continues, especially Chrys with his personal demon and I also liked the villain(s) in this story. They came across as smart and ruthless which made the stakes high in any interaction. I always think that a hero is only as good as the villains they face and Zack has created some good villains in here, ones that will stop at almost nothing to get what they want.
“Wishing. Hoping. They are dangerous words. If you hope for something to be true and it is not, that realization can break you. But until then, while that belief runs warm in your blood, it can drive you to do amazing things.”
The magic system, threadweaving, is very unique and interesting. I guess it could be compared slightly to Brandon Sanderson’s allomancy with a push/pull dynamic but it is certainly different enough to be its own system. People who have different coloured eyes have different threadweaving abilities and this carries a lot of importance throughout the story.
“It doesn’t matter how beautiful the wall is if the garden inside is dying. No one can live like that forever.”
The one aspect that I haven’t spoken about yet that I felt stood out was that of the animals that inhabit the world. We see how they are in the wild and multiple occurrences where they are used in a commercial aspect. This was brilliant because many times are there fantasy creatures roaming a land but no-one has used them to make money. This makes the story more real and relatable since we, as humans, use every creature we possibly can to some extent to make money (and I hate it). I found a certain part involving racing really fun and cool because it reminded me of other races such as pod racing from Star Wars.
Rating 4/5 – This is an excellent debut novel. Zack has created a magically filled world with characters you actually care for. There is a sense of real danger lurking between the pages and at the end of this story it all comes crashing together for an ultimate finale. I enjoyed this much more than I anticipated and this is definitely a book to showcase what can be achieved by self published authors. This easily could have been published by Orbit or Gollancz as one of their lead titles.