Along the Razor’s Edge
The War Eternal, Book 1
By Rob J. Hayes
NO ONE ESCAPES THE PIT
At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.
Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.
I purchased this book.
This is the first novel by Rob J. Hayes that I’ve tried. Needless to say I was not disappointed.
I’ve followed Rob on social media for a while now, having seen reviews for his other works, and posts about new book releases etc as well. Why didn’t I start reading his work earlier? I don’t know. I suppose it was a combination of timing and that hesitancy of ‘will I?/won’t I?’ enjoy the work. I am really picky with my reads, and what I connect with – maybe overly so, I don’t know. In any case, yeah, I haven’t read Rob’s work before, despite hearing many good things about it.
That’s certainly going to change now.
One of the things that attracted me to Along the Razor’s Edge was that Rob wanted a go at writing a character in the vein of Jorge from Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns. If you know me, or have read any of my reviews before, you will know that I adore The Broken Empire series, and I really like anti-heroes. Like, I kinda love them.
So, knowing this was Rob’s goal – AND that the trilogy is already completed and he’s doing the whole rapid-release thing, I decided to jump in.
Well, I loved it!
From the start it is obvious that Rob knows what he is doing. The writing is sharp and the story is masterfully crafted. He pulls you along in such a way that the tension is constantly building and you always have to read ‘just one more chapter’. In fact I finished this in 3 days – I’ve not done that with a book in quite some time.
The plot beats are on point, and Rob hits them regularly, walking a razor’s edge (ha!) where Eskara’s narration sways between the present and her past (although that’s not quite accurate as the narration is by an older Eskara, looking back and telling the reader her story, but that is just semantics as we can take the present to be the Pit that she is in, and the past to be what and who she was before she arrived there at the tender age of 14). In fact there was a few times I was silently (okay, not so silently) screaming at Rob when he’d leave me hanging at the end of a chapter, to then jump into the past at the start of the next one. (Hello, did I mention he’s deviously good at creating tension?) Luckily, Eskara’s past is just as interesting as the present, although very different, and it is always relevant to the story at hand.
Eskara Helsene is a great character. Her flaws are made even more poignant by the readers insight into her self awareness. There is something that speaks deeply when we are exposed to the very human vulnerability of knowing your own nature; especially when we still let (or are unable to stop) our habits, or inner demons, drive our responses against our better judgement. But good or bad – often regrettable – Eskara owns who she is, and her choices, and it is these things that push the reader through the story as much as they do Eskara herself.
The stage on which the story takes place is brilliantly set with broken humans, monsters and the ruins of ancient civilizations. The Pit is a reminiscent of the idea of Dante’s Inferno, yet with a lot more circles. You can feel the weight of the stone pressing in around Eskara, taste stale air of mining tunnels deep beneath the earth, and smell the rank stench of unwashed humanity.
And the teasing Rob offers the reader in terms of just what Eskara becomes, of where her journey takes her is torture in and of itself. I wonder if I should wait until book 3 is out before I read it? Oh, who am I kidding, I will read book two right away (already pre-ordered!).
If you are fan of Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire, the you are going to love this one.