A Fool’s Hope – Mike Shackle

Mike Shackle is a damn great writer. I am very glad that I kept procrastinating on reading We Are the Dead so I was able to read A Fool’s Hope just a few days later and did not have to suffer for very long in between! While being a lovely person, he likes to torture his characters (and his readers), so be forewarned if you are considering diving into his excellent series – it’s addictive and soul-destroying.

Massive thanks to Will O’Mullane and Gollancz for inviting me on the blog tour and sending me a review copy of A Fool’s Hope. As usual, all opinions are my own.

STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

PUBLICATION DATE: 03/12/20

SUMMARY: War takes everything.

From Tinnstra, it took her family and thrust her into a conflict she wanted only to avoid. Now her queen’s sole protector, she must give all she has left to keep Zorique safe.

It has taken just as much from Jia’s revolutionaries. Dren and Jax – battered, tortured, once enemies themselves – must hold strong against their bruised invaders, the Egril.

For the Egril intend to wipe Jia from the map. They may have lost a battle, but they are coming back.

If Tinnstra and her allies hope to survive, Jia’s heroes will need to be ready when they do. (from Gollancz)

OPINIONS: A Fool’s Hope starts off right where book one leaves off, minutes after the devastating end of We Are the Dead. It features many of the same excellent characters and stellar writing, and no less pain for its protagonists. I love those disaster kids with my whole heart and they suffer so badly – Mike, please be kind to them for a little bit! Tinnstra is one of my favourite characters in fantasy – she is a coward who ends up rising to the challenges placed before her and Zorique needs to be protected at all costs.

The one gripe I had with A Fool’s Hope is that I struggled with the passage of time. We Are the Dead took place over the span of a very short period of time, and as the second book started immediately after, it took me a while to realise that there were sometimes large gaps of time between chapters. A Fool’s Hope plays out over years, and I needed to get used to the new timescale. I wish there was more obvious guiding in that respect, although I read it as an e-copy and the paper version might be more helpful (or maybe I just overread signifiers, I sometimes do that).

The Last War series is very well written, fast paced and contains tight character work. Mike Shackle has written a series on the edge between true Grimdark and Epic Fantasy that is a true model of how the genre should be done. I need more of his writing, and I can’t wait to read the next book he publishes. Add A Fool’s Hope to your Goodreads here, and order it from Bookshop here. (affiliate link)

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