Blog, Book Review, Reading

Book Review – The Ashen Levels: Adept, by C.F. Welburn

The Ashen Levels: Adept

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

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About

In Adept, things really do begin to get serious – and as they should, given the title.

Balagir now truly comes into his stride as a leader, whether by choice or not, and naturally he is met with newer and greater challenges. These are challenges that give no quarter, enemies that do not flinch at his approach; the path is unforgiving, the path is still perilous.

Despite this, personal bonds are forged all the stronger for it, and the benefits are eventually reaped.

Plot

In this instalment, the plot really diversifies with characters, creatures, and chaos. This all helps the world building too, which is important, because a lot of well presented travelling takes place.

Balagir ultimately gets closer to his end goal, though it is still some way off. However, it is the story in-between then, that shines really well. There are a lot of clever elements that keep the pace up, and which twist back into older plot-lines.

In Adept things increase in scope and scale, and this is a welcomed approach in a world that has a lot to tell.

Even though the series as whole could trick Professor Moriarty, it still manages to weave ever greater spirals of fate and destiny, and once again raises the bar.

Characters

Adept does a pretty faultless job of building on the established roster, and introducing new unfortunate souls when required.

Character development is strong and believable, and as before, the balance between those of importance, and those painting the background and lore, is handled well.

Balagir continues to keep strange company, but never once did I wish it otherwise.

There is also more personality, I think, between all characters overall, with great moments of banter (dark or not). I noticed the humour rather immediately upon reading.

World Building

In Adept, we get a better sense of the world in which our tale exists, and unsurprisingly you can’t help but want to know more.

I felt as though my eyes had been given greater scope to see, and it built on possibly the only weakness so far.

Welburn also continues to create contrast between what we think is going well, and how quickly the world can shatter that perception. It helps that these methods are brilliantly delivered via the world and its denizens.

I still think there is more potential to see and hear more, though, but I think that could be said of a lot of stories. Overall, there are some great moments which really demonstrate imagination, and why it’s important.

Writing

Nothing new to report here; the style is still consistent and solid, providing an easy yet engaging read.

My only criticisms could perhaps be pointed towards a bit of word repetition, in parts, but this is very minor.

Also, I think perhaps a little more creativity with place/creature names could be of benefit: for example, a Yetir sounds a little predictable to me. This could be intentional, of course, and let’s be honest; it doesn’t detract from the experience.

Take it from me, I had to think hard about any points of criticism here.

Summary

After Journeyman, this was a refreshing change of pace and pretty much what I wanted to find.

I especially liked the greater fluidity and movement between the characters and world they travel through; it brought energy to the scenes and plot-lines throughout.

The greater depth overall adds to the excitement of Balagir’s journey, and everything builds upon the well laid foundations.

In conclusion, the ending here was just right; leaving us in a place where we’re ready to know what comes next, but without feeling cheated by the writer.


If you’re reading this, I imagine you’ve already read the first two books, but if you haven’t… why?

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