An Echo of the Ascended – Elinor Book Two
by Mark Gelineau and Joe King
Fantasy | Novella | 70 Pages | Published by Gelineau and King in 2016
This book was received from Netgalley in return for an honest review
Mark Gelineau and Joe King continue on their quest to bring bitesize fantasy to the masses with the fifth novella in their Echoes of the Ascended series. Broken Banners, which continues the story of Elinor following the events in A Reaper of Stone, is an engaging and beautifully written fantasy epic which captures the spirit of its predecessor whilst introducing new characters and themes to this increasingly diverse series.
Gelineau and King have proven themselves to be masters of deception as the captivating world of Aedaron is once again brought to life in surprisingly short format. This is a world which becomes ever more substantial with each addition and which consistently leaves you hanging on for more. And with this latest novella, these authors look set to start a tradition of successful and thoroughly engaging successors to their varied sub-series of novellas.Slaughtered and left for crows, soldiers of the King’s Army lay dead in a field. A grim reminder: the king’s law ends at the gates of the capital.
Elinor fought for what she believed and now she is an outcast. No soldier will follow her. No officer will stand with her. Yet when she finds her brothers and sisters slaughtered, she cannot turn her back on them.
Long ago, they swore an oath. Not to the king, but to each other.
Saved from prison by the machinations of powerful men, Lieutenant Aldis Janen, Reaper of the King and leader of the company of the Ninety-Fifth, must make his way to Cragswatch March on a mission of importance; a mission which could mean elevation in the ranks for Aldis and glory for the men and women of the Ninety-Fifth.
But when Elinor, Conbert, and their contingent of Engineers attempt to assist Aldis in the Reaping at Height’s Ward Keep, they soon realise all is not as it should be. Half the Ninety-Fifth lie dead, and the other half are missing – of Aldis no sign remains.
Finding themselves embroiled in a war of succession, Elinor and Con must fight their way to the usurper and his pack of turncoat Razors; but can they rescue Aldis and the remainder of the Ninety-Fifth before it’s too late? In this battle of wills and arms, a Reaper’s work is never simple.From the outset it is clear that this will be a story of both discovery and adventure, a story where Elinor and Aldis, past friends and compatriots, will be reacquainted as the battle lines are drawn. However, Con’s obvious dislike of the Lieutenant shows that his reputation as a rogue and troublemaker extend far beyond his current situation and into the mystery of their combined past – a mystery which runs a line of intrigue throughout the novella. Often finding himself in situations unbefitting of his station, and from which he often must beg, bribe or cheat his way out, Aldis Janen brings both drama and humorous relief to the narrative, giving this second Elinor novella a distinctive modern fantasy flavour.
Broken Banners continues in the same vein as A Reaper of Stone with Elinor’s passages marked by their beautiful and atmospheric descriptions, a quality that lends itself to the vivid depiction of a darkly alluring fantasy world which resonates with the tradition that so clearly marks this series. In addition to this, Broken Banners builds on the success of its predecessor by splitting its perspective between Elinor’s observations and Con’s practical realism, along with the introduction of Aldis’ roguish verve and humour; a tactic which adds a refreshing tone to an already impressive sub-series.
Janen is a reactionary character who inspires love, loathing and despair in equal measure to those who cross his path and who, despite good intentions, manages to break Elinor’s calm serenity on more than one occasion. Elinor, whilst accepting of Aldis, is able to show her strength of personality by insisting that he face the consequences of his actions with the firm resolve which she consistently displays throughout the narrative. An excellent addition to this small cast of characters, Aldis Janen gives Elinor’s Echoes a certain flair and sense of unpredictability which consistently builds tension and excitement and which looks set to continue in the Elinor novellas to come.
From an amusing introduction, to a dramatic core, Broken Banners is a thoroughly exciting novella from start to finish. The narrative and its alternating perspectives give a wide view of Aedaron from a varied, if small, cast of characters. With a touch of conspiracy and a good dose of humour, this second Elinor novella showcases the varied skillset of these talented authors and left me in no doubt of the quality of this beautiful, if dangerous, fantasy series.With delicious hints of strange powers, a narrative which is at all times beautiful and compelling, and fantastic battles which are more than worthy of a mention, Broken Banners is a wonderful addition to this addictive fantasy series. Fans of the Echoes of the Ascended will not be disappointed by this latest Elinor novella and, for those who have yet to discover the writing of Gelineau and King, surely you can spare an hour to become submerged in this dark, dangerous and beautifully imagined world.