All Petre Mercy wanted was a good old-fashioned dramatic exit from his life as a prince. But it’s been five years since he fled home on a cyborg horse. Now the King – his Dad – is dead – and Petre has to decide which heir to pledge his thyroid-powered sword to.
As the youngest in a set of quadruplets, he’s all too aware that the line of succession is murky. His siblings are on the precipice of power grabs, and each of them want him to pick their side.
If Petre has any hope of preventing civil war, he’ll have to avoid one sibling who wants to take him hostage, win back another’s trust after years of rivalry and resentment, and get an audience with a sister he’s been avoiding for five years.
Before he knows it, he’s plunged himself into a web of intrigue and a world of strange, unnatural inventions just to get to her doorstep.
Family reunions can be a special form of torture.
I put this book on my TBR based on the initial review Becky M gave it for SPFBO9 this year. I started reading it two days before it was announced as a finalist in the competition, and I think it’s definitely deserving of its spot.
It’s a blend of both fantasy and science-fiction, and one of those rare books that blur the lines so well that I can only categorize it as science fantasy. That being said, it has some really cool concepts.
First, there’s the ghost fog, and it is exactly what it sounds like. The fog is made up of ghosts, but breathing it in will infect you with a spirit. You’ll experience their memories as if they’re your own, and often act according to their desires. Some spirits aren’t so bad, but the Violent Dead are bad news. People infected with them tend to go on killing sprees.
Then there’s the corpse technology. It’s a combination of necromancy and cybernetics/clockwork components that results in something that isn’t quite alive, but functions almost as if it was. The cyborg horses are a perfect example.
Our main character, Petre, has an interesting history. He’s the youngest of four quadruplets (by a minute or two), and they’re royalty. His sister, the oldest of the four, is set to inherit their father’s throne.
Now, I have a soft spot for sibling stories. I don’t think I’ve read one with quadruplets before, but the sibling bonds/rivalries/spats seemed pretty realistic to me. Add to it that they’re royalty, and…you can probably see where this is going. Sibling ties are definitely strained when it comes to matters of succession (and Petre’s whole family is aggravating to no end. I really felt for him.)
I really enjoyed the combat sequences in this book too, and there are a few of them. Petre isn’t always the most elegant fighter and winds up injured more often than not, but I liked the realism in the fights. There are too many instances of the hero walking away unscathed after a confrontation in mainstream media, so it’s a nice change of pace to see it happen otherwise. You know, broken fingers, cuts, concussions…
All of this is to say: I loved this book.
The Fall Is All There Is is book one in the series. I’ll be watching for book two.