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A Touch of Light is Breathtakingly Dark


In the Domain, death is akin to shame for it drives the Seraph away. However, in the clans to the south of the Domain, death is a necessity in order to keep the world whole.


A blight infests the lands of the clans and a madness is spreading across the Domain that leaves its victims bloodthirsty and violent. It’s clear that something must be done before death comes for everyone.


This is the first in Thiago Abdalla’s The Ashes of Avarin series and the third of the books I’m reviewing for Escapist Book Tours.


What I Liked


The Lack of Info Dumps


This was the first book I've read in a long time that let the reader figure out the world on their own, and I was honestly surprised at how much I liked that.


What is the Domain? Who is the Seraph? How does the magic system work?


These are all questions that are answered throughout the book, but you're not told the answers to these questions. It's good to read a book that assumes its audience will be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together.


However, there were some things I still didn't quite grasp. Namely: What exactly is the Seraph's Eye? Is it a moon? The sun? Or is it a literal eye (highly unlikely, but, you know, it's fantasy, so it could happen)? A glossary would be helpful for readers that need to have concrete answers for these things.


I'm not one of those readers, so I was fine with what I was given. Though I'll admit to thinking of the Seraph's Eye as like a glowing glyph in the sky and that was disconcerting to me.


The Magic System

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Two of the three POV characters in this book have special abilities. I really enjoyed the system of magic presented for the Sentinels. There were a lot of aspects to it. It was complex and had strengths and weaknesses that I found fascinating.


I've heard that there's a D&D campaign in the works for this setting and...I maybe already have an idea for a Sentinel character...


The other character with special abilities just fascinated me. This might be a minor spoiler, but I loved that there is a magic system centered on empathy in this series. Empathy is a power that is not used enough in fantasy, and this was so refreshing to see.


The Character Arcs

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A character's emotional journey is one of the main things I look for in a good story.


Does the character have a positive arc? A negative one? What is their core misbelief?


These are all questions that better be answered for me by the end of the book. If they're not, then you will be unlikely to get anything higher than a three-star rating from me. I will give series a little bit more leeway here because the author is splitting up the arc among multiple books.


My favorite kind of character arc in a series is when the character's major core misbelief isn't resolved until the end of the series, but each book has a self-sustained journey that feels conclusive while also contributing to the overall arc. Thiago definitely delivers on this front in his debut.


The Battles

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The battle scenes in this book are intense.


The way they're described had me thinking of the insanely violent and brutal hits of movies like 300. You could just imagine the pain and carnage in a very visceral way.


The tension of some of the later battles with the zombie-like, Madness infected enemy gave me serious Kingdom and Battle of Winterfell vibes. It was palpable on the page.


The Mystery

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The main thing that will definitely keep me coming back for the next book is the numerous unanswered questions that I have.


Questions that I can't really get into because of spoilers, but they're juicy questions that I now need answers to.


Thiago sets up a lot of things for future books that are sure to be fascinating, and I'm here for it.


What I Didn't Like


The Missing Death Scene

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Really the only thing that wasn't great for me about this book was...the missing death scene that should have been at the beginning.


If you know, you know.


Because the outcome of this death drives one of the POV characters for the majority of the book, I personally feel that this scene should have been included.


But it wasn't.


And because it wasn't, I found the story to be a bit disjointed in the beginning because in once scene the character is alive, and the next, they're dead.


How did they die? Was it a battle? Was it the Madness? I had no idea until the very end of the book and because of that, a reveal later on in the story didn't have the emotional gut-punch that it should have had and I wasn't as invested in that particular POV for a long time because I didn't care for the main driving force of their arc.


Because of this what I think boils down to a minor pacing issue in the beginning of the book, I gave A Touch of Light four stars, but I could definitely see future books being five-star reads for me.


If you enjoy hard-hitting fantasy, don't mind a bleak and unforgiving world, and like to create theories about what might happen: you should definitely read this one.


And you have a chance to win a free copy in this giveaway!


Or you can buy it off of Amazon here.




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