First 5* book of the year...

I haven't been posting many reviews over the last however long, because a lot of books I've read have been a bit 'meh' and I don't like leaving bad reviews; I'd rather share things I've loved.

The first book I've genuinely felt like awarding 5* to is Justin Lee Anderson's novel The Lost War. In fact, I loved the book so much, I approached Justin and asked if I could interview him and he agreed - see last week's post!

The Lost War
The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn.
With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees.
In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King's Envoy.
Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission.
As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom?

To be honest, I wouldn't normally have read this kind of book, but I'd entered the SPFBO6 competition last year (see the review I got here for Aegyir Rises as part of the competition), and Justin's book was the overall winner, so I wanted to see what it was like.

It was fabulous. The characters are all exceedingly well drawn and the tale rattles along well. The added bonus (at least for me) was the use of Scottish Gaelic and the plays on names of Edinburgh and its environs. I know some Scottish Gaelic (I've been trying to learn it for about 18 months) so I was delighted when the words popped up. Justin talked about why he'd used Gaelic in the interview.

To tell the truth, I think I have a bit of a crush on Aranok, at least on the page. In real life, he would probably bug the tits off me! He's smart, skilful, arrogant, quick to temper, complicated... and not just out of his teens.

That was another huge bonus for me. The main characters are closer to my age than I normally find in fantasy books. They're in their thirties or forties and all the better for having been around a bit longer. Their characters are well settled, and to be fair, I would trust someone in their thirties or forties with saving the world, a lot more than I would a teenager!

The world of The Lost War was detailed, the dialogue crackled, the characters were utterly believable and the story was entertaining and gripping. I looked forward to reading each day and had that rare feeling of both being desperate to read more yet not wanting the book to finish. I would thoroughly recommend it.

Roll on the next instalment!