The Way Into Chaos Author: Harry Connolly Series: The Great Way 1 Publisher: Radar Avenue Press, December 18, 2014 Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 364 Pages List Price: US$15.99 (print); US$4.99 (eBook) ISBN: 9780989828420 (print); 2940150226999 (B&N eBook)
A 2017 SPFBO Finalist!
BOOK ONE OF THE GREAT WAY: The city of Peradain is the heart of an empire built with steel, spears, and a monopoly on magic... until, in a single day, it falls, overthrown by a swarm of supernatural creatures of incredible power and ferocity. Neither soldier nor spell caster can stand against them.
The empire's armies are crushed, its people scattered, its king and queen killed. Freed for the first time in generations, city-states scramble to seize neighboring territories and capture imperial spell casters. But as the creatures spread across the land, these formerly conquered peoples discover they are not prepared to face the enemy that destroyed an empire.
Can the last Peradaini prince, pursued by the beasts that killed his parents, cross battle-torn lands to retrieve a spell that might--just might--turn the battle against this new enemy?
All of Peradain have gathered at the Festival awaiting the opening of the portal to bring through their guests, Evening People. But it wasn't the Evening People who came through.....instead supernatural creatures flow through wreaking havoc, killing the King and Queen and nearly everyone there. Only a few escape including the young prince, his friends and his teacher, the Tyr Tejohn Treygar. The empire that was so powerful no longer exists as the beasts spread across the lands killing as they go while the prince flees trying to find a way to stop the invasion. A small group of teenagers up against killer monsters? The world is in chaos and the future looks bleak in Connolly's The Way Into Chaos.
This was the second of the SPFBO 2017 finalists that I read and it's description as an epic is very accurate. There are a lot of characters in a big empire with diverse races and religions. It's clear that Connolly has a vibrant imagination. There is a lot of story to tell and Connolly packs a lot into 300 + pages. The story unfolds at a frenetic pace as the Prince and Tejohn escape the beasts and although the pace evens out midway through it is still pretty fast paced throughout.
Connolly introduces several characters at the very start during the invasion of the beasts and it is challenging to keep track of who is who. Characterization and pace are my two main criticisms with this novel. I had no idea what was going on for the first third of the story as soo many characters were introduced all at once and Connolly doesn't explain their relationship to each other, the society, the classes or certain character's magical powers until much later on. In my opinion this story was crying out for a hero. Epics, especially high fantasy, really need that one character where, as the reader, you are totally invested in them and their quest. While I thought that the two main characters - the teacher Tejohn or the teenager Cazia Freewell were written to play that role they weren't developed sufficiently for me to feel that I was invested in them. In fact, I found them rather dull and irritating, especially Cazia. Overall, I found this a challenging read and not due to the sophisticated plot. Had Connolly spent a little longer fleshing out Tejohn and Cazia and set up the background a little earlier it would have been a cracking read. For me The Way Into Chaos is a 5/10.