“Book Review: Song of Sundering“
Reviewed by Alexandria Ducksworth
Fantasy nerds are going to love Song of Sundering’s unique and creative world
A.R. Clinton’s Song of Sundering is nowhere near your typical fantasy novel. History, war, adventure, magic, technology, mystery—this thing’s got it all. Clinton’s worldbuilding rises to the levels of J.R.R. Tolkien and Brandon Sanderson’s epic tales. You can feel the author’s creative passion seeping through its pages.
The Sundering is a historical catastrophe the people of Prin often recall. Millions have died, lands have been lost. Nowadays, Prin citizens have been living in peace until the Xenai have slowly started creeping to their borders. These shadowy creatures have been building their armies and arsenal to take out the Pact (people of Prin) for a while.
Many people are involved in this rising war: Prin Stateswoman Ayna Shae, her Sourceasting daughter Shara, General Hafi Boral, mechanic Tani Grey, and many more. Their lives will never be the same. Additionally, they must deal with Prin’s other problems: class conflict, cultist rivalries, and the mysterious Blight crystals. There’s no rest for Prin, especially for Ayna who must find a way to get all of this under control.
Author A.R. Clinton does an excellent job in writing multiple characters and keeping them engaging. You either care for them so much that you pray they achieve their goals (and stay alive), or you don’t like a character but still care enough to know their fate.
Shara Shae is a character that readers can love with good motives and a goal of defending Prin from the Xenai. Meanwhile, Ayna will do anything to keep her power over Prin and protect her city. She goes to sketchy lengths to do so, even sacrificing her own daughter to fight in the war. Readers may not like Ayna, but I have no doubt they’ll be drawn to her. Each time she’s on the page, they’ll be clawing to find out whatever it is she is going to do next.
To add to the strong characters, the stakes are high; each major character in this story must sacrifice for their causes and make heavy decisions. Clinton does a great job of writing imperfect characters, showing us that heroes can make awful decisions while villains might just have some heart left to do good deeds. The keynote: nobody’s perfect.
While the Song of Sundering’s world is unique and captivating, the information can feel a bit cumbersome for the first book in a series. There are passages in here where readers have to consume a lot of lore in order to understand where the story is taking us. For example, Clinton does a great job of filling out the world with different races, but there’s so much to know about Terrans, Illarans, and the Xenai at once that it’s difficult to take in all at once. We obviously want lore and worldbuilding in our fantasies, but at times, it feels like story doesn’t always come first.
But in the end, Song of Sundering is an epic fantasy well worth reading. When the plot does come through, it’s strong and mysterious, and the world has a beautiful blend of advanced technology and arcane magic, making it one of those rare fantasies that feel wholly its own.
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Fantasy
Print Length: 436 pages
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