Review: We Are the Dead (The Last War #1) by Mike Shackle

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis

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.

And in moments, the war is over. Resistance is quashed. Kings and city leaders are barricaded in their homes awaiting banishment and execution, the warriors are massacred, and a helpless people submit to the brutality of Egril rule.

Jia’s heroes have failed it. They are all gone. And yet… there is still hope. Soon the fate of the kingdom will fall into the hands of a schoolboy terrorist, a crippled Shulka warrior and his wheelchair bound son, a single mother desperate enough to do anything she can to protect her baby… and Tinnstra, disgraced daughter of the Shulka’s greatest leader, who now lies dead by Egril hands.

A brand new epic fantasy: gritty and modern featuring a unique ensemble of characters who will lead a revolution against their overlords. 

Review

Thanks to the author for a finished copy of We Are the Dead (The Last War #1). This copy was not given in exchange for a review, but based on reviews from some of my fellow book community members, I just knew that I had to put it at the top of my list.

We are the dead who serve all who live.
We are the dead who fight.
We are the dead who guard tomorrow.
We are the dead who protect our land, our monarch, our clan.
We are the dead who stand in the light.
We are the dead who face the night.
We are the dead whom evil fears.
We are the Shulka and we are the dead.
We are the dead.
We are the dead.
We are the dead.
We are the dead.
We are the Shulka and we are the dead.

We Are the Dead is a captivating, heartrending bout of epic fantasy greatness. Shackle has written one of the best debuts I have ever read and it is perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie, John Gwynne, and Ed McDonald. If you enjoy fantasy with grimdark elements, redeemable characters, distorted magic, and explosive action, this is an ideal starting point.

The first time I saw the cover for this book and read the synopsis, I was immediately intrigued. Then I saw that one of my new favorite authors, Peter McLean, had written a blurb and it sold me on the spot.

We Are the Dead does not read like a debut; in fact, Shackle’s foray feels like the work of a seasoned vet. I don’t say this lightly. The first four (4) chapters of this book are some of the best I have ever read. While it isn’t a prologue, per say, it sets up the entirety of the story perfectly. You are introduced to a majority of the characters you will come to know, hate, grief alongside, and love throughout the rest of the story.

I know that most books tend to have a lull at some point in them; where as a reader, you are waiting for the action to pick back up or, at the very least, someone to get stabbed. I can’t say that I found any real slow points this time around, or if I did, they didn’t last long enough for me to contemplate moving on to something else. I was enamored throughout my read-through as Shackle continued to pack on the action and introduce me to some well thought-out characters.

If you enjoy fantasy with some really good world-building, flawed but redeemable characters, and action-packed scenes/battles that’ll have you scrambling for 8K UHD, We Are the Dead is a perfect buy for your holiday season. And don’t worry, A Fool’s Hope (The Last War #2) is on its way.

2 thoughts on “Review: We Are the Dead (The Last War #1) by Mike Shackle

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