Originally written exclusively for Audible by author Jack Campbell, The Pillars of Reality is an ongoing fantasy series that bridges your classic elements with steampunk. I think the notion of audible exclusive content to be pretty cool, especially in my genre of choice, but I’m pleased to announce the first three books are now available to buy in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle, which I’ll link for you below. If you want a quick read that’s a guaranteed page-turner, yet light on some of the heavier fantasy tropes, I definitely recommend The Dragons of Dorcastle.
The book follows two protagonists. The first, a male Mage named Alain, is the youngest ever to make the status of Mage in his Guild. He is tasked with his first mission, to help transport a caravan from one town to the next. The second, a female Master Mechanic named Mari, is also the youngest in her guild to be promoted to the status, and many of her seniors look down on her for the breach in usual tradition. Her first mission happens to be to stay hidden within the caravan until she gets to the next town. Bandits end up striking the caravan, and though the two remain alive after the conflict, the manor and strength of the bandits weaponry prompt the two to begin investigating a mystery that seems far bigger than they could ever imagine.
The thing is, Mages (who are taught to divorce the self from emotion and feeling, similar to Star Trek’s Vulcans), cannot stand Mechanics, and vice versa. Both guilds treat it as a treasonous act to be anywhere near one another, let alone to talk and help each other out. So much so, that the two don’t even believe the other’s abilities in their respective fields are anything more than tricks. So seeing the two discover the wonders of each other’s abilities throughout the novel, is an unraveling treat.
The biggest problem with the book, for me, is Alain himself. He’s written so robotic (purposely so), that it becomes a story of an android learning what it means to be human. This does prove hilarious at times, and sad, but many times you kind of just wish the author would move on, instead of describing every emotion the character doesn’t feel, or sentiment he doesn’t grasp.
In a way, it feels slightly like a fantastical take on the Romeo & Juliet story, but only at the books most shallow. I’ll admit, I didn’t really see where the story was headed until about halfway through, wherein I got it, and it became a must finish. It’s a novel driven by character development, but I can see moving forward that it will evolve into much more of a story driven narrative.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Not without its flaws, it was a nice step back into the fantasy genre for me – something I haven’t been reading for some months. I’ve already begun the next novel, and can’t wait to find out where the two characters are headed next.