Title: Fate of the Fallen
Author: Kel Kade
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Genres: Epic Fantasy
The cover blurb for Fate of the Fallen tells you “Not all stories have happy endings.” In case you had any doubt what that signifies, Chapter 2 establishes Mathias as the only hero in millions of prophecies who has but one single hope of saving the world . . . and then Chapter 3 unceremoniously kills said hero dead.
Yeah, Kel Kade is not fooling around here.
Without saying too much more about the plot, this is a story that explores what happens after the hero dies, the prophecy fails, and the entire realm gives up hope. Seriously, those who don’t flee out of selfish desires choose to stand by and watch the world die. All that stands against the end of the world is Aaslo, an out-of-his-element forester who may be going insane, arguing with the voice of his best friend – whose disembodied head he carries with him in a burlap sack.
This is a dark, morbidly humorous story, full of equal parts pain and madness, sorrow and anger. Aaslo is the very definition of a hero, an ordinary man who accepts the burden of responsibility and stands up against impossible odds, all in honor of friendship. He is a good man, one who accumulates followers and allies wherever he goes – including a pair of hapless thieves (they were a blast), an impetuous barmaid (I’d hoped for more of her, to be honest), an idiot horse (truly memorable), and a long-suffering noble (I liked him). There’s also a woman who’s a reaper, a collector of souls, who observes the story, but that’s enough said about her.
Fate of the Fallen is one of those books that leaves you wondering what it’s all about and where it can possibly be headed. It teases so many epic fantasy tropes, and then it either denies them or subverts them. It’s not a perfect book, but it’s a fun read. I have some nagging suspicions about a hidden cheat or prophecy escape clause, but I really hope Kade won’t go there – especially after that kick-ass ending where heroism, sacrifice, and foolish choices lead to something surprisingly monstrous.
Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀
My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.