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Book Review: We Are the Dead

Table of Contents

“The war is over. The enemy won. Now it’s time to fight back.

For generations, the people of Jia – a land where magic has long since faded from the world, clinging on in only a few rare individuals – have been protected from the northern Egril hordes by their warrior caste, but their enemy has not been idle. They have rediscovered magic and use it to launch an overwhelming surprise attack. An invasion has begun.”

Title: We Are the Dead

Series: The Last War #1

Author: Mike Shackle

Page Count: 488

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Date Read: August 5th, 2022

I received a copy of We Are the Dead as my prize for winning the Guess the Book contest over on Dom’s Book Club discord server. If you’re not over there hanging out with us you should be! We have a great time in there talking books mostly but life in general at times too! On top of receiving this book recently, I also found out it was a the planned August buddy read with a few of us in the community. We began reading it the first of August and I think most of us dove right in immediately. There may have been one or two wrapping up other commitments first. The rule with this group is we couldn’t share our ratings and reviews until the group was finished reading and we had a chance to share our thoughts with each other. So I’m typing this up ahead of time as I don’t want my initial thoughts to stray due to those conversations. If I have some conflicting feelings after those conversations I’ll add them to this review as a comparison.

I was honestly excited about this read as it’s been on my radar since last year. In fact it’s been on my Wishlist for several months as well. On top of that, the fact that Dom picked it for me thinking I’d enjoy it, I was anxious to get into it. I was enjoying the book right from the start. I’m starting to get used to a lot of the books I read introduce characters by chapter and this was following the same style. It doesn’t take very long for some action to get going in this book. I started speculating a couple of things very early on. I’m happy to announce most of those have not gone as I thought they would. I’ll get to those a bit more later on in a spoiler section below.

The pacing in book one here was very good. Couple that with the fact the writing style itself was very easy to read and this meant this was a true page turner for me. I started this the first of the month but I didn’t get to really read much the first two days because I was traveling for work. But by the third day I was knee deep into this one. I ended up pausing briefly at 50% on the fourth day to take a breather and read another book just for a short break. Then on the fifth day I powered through the rest of the book. I ended up staying awake about an extra two hours just to wrap it up. So yes I’d say the pacing was right up my alley!

World building was nicely done too. We got to know a lot about the two major cities most of this book takes place. Though they do elude a few times to other parts of the world which I hope we continue to learn more about in the future books. The major wasn’t anything ground breaking but it was still enjoyable. We have very strong magic users on both sides and perhaps even a hint to the history of the gods and their role in the magic. Over the generations magic has become much rarer and the gap between power of those with and without has become a huge chasm at this point. The different cultures and military and even more subtle just fighting styles was nice throughout this book.

I saved the character development for last. I think the development was done well. We really do learn quite a bit about several characters. The one thing I noticed though was I was well over half way through this book before I really started to connect to any of the main characters. They all had their annoying traits that just prevented me from liking them. By the end we definitely get some great characters though! At this point I think some of my favorites are Jax, Greener, Dren and Trinnstra. But there really are some great ones both on our protagonist and antagonist sides!

All in all I think this was a great book for my tastes. If you like a bit darker (not grim dark) suspenseful action packed fantasy, this might be a read for you!

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4.5/5
Character Development 4.5/5

Now onto a couple potential spoilers but just some thoughts and speculations I’ve had reading this one:

I mentioned this one very early on when discussing with our buddy read group. I really thought that Dren and Trinnstra’s paths were going to cross much sooner than they did! The way they were introduced only a chapter a part and they were complete opposites of each other, I thought in the next couple of chapters they’d merge paths and go from there. How wrong I was! Their paths don’t actually cross until much much later in the book. But it worked out in my opinion. And by the time that happened, they were still different but that personality gap had closed quite a bit.

I am still heavily speculating that Raaku is actually Aasgod’s lost brother. In book one here Aasgod is telling Trinnstra about magic, gods and his brother who he assumes is dead though he doesn’t know how or where he died. Just that nobody has heard from him in so very long. Aasgod also mentioned how easy it is for true magic users to convince others they are gods or descendants of gods. Couple that with the fact that with the rise of the Egril from mindless barbarians and that their new leader who united them wears a mask but is a powerful magic users who claims to be the son of a god, and I really think Raaku is Aasgods brother. This doesn’t get revealed by the end of book one so I guess we will have to continue on and see what happens with that thought.

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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