Review: When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner

Review: When the Heavens Fall by Marc TurnerWhen the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner
Published by Tor Books on May 19th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Epic
Pages: 544
Source: Publisher

Thanks to Tor Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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If you pick a fight with Shroud, Lord of the Dead, you had better ensure your victory, else death will mark only the beginning of your suffering.
A book giving its wielder power over the dead has been stolen from a fellowship of mages that has kept the powerful relic dormant for centuries. The thief, a crafty, power-hungry necromancer, intends to use the Book of Lost Souls to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld. Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artifact at all cost.
However, the god is not the only one interested in the Book, and a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed. Among them is a reluctant Guardian who is commissioned by the Emperor to find the stolen Book, a troubled prince who battles enemies both personal and political, and a young girl of great power, whose past uniquely prepares her for an encounter with Shroud. The greatest threat to each of their quests lies not in the horror of an undead army but in the risk of betrayal from those closest to them. Each of their decisions comes at a personal cost and will not only affect them, but also determine the fate of their entire empire. The first of an epic swords & sorcery fantasy trilogy, Marc Turner's When the Heavens Fall features gritty characters, deadly magic, and meddlesome gods

When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner is reminiscent of Steven Erikson and Glen Cook. I think for readers looking for something new but love some of the older fantasies, this could be a good pick.

The story and starts out with multiple people (or teams) all trying to be one to find and get possession of  The Book of Lost Souls, which is a powerful book that gives it’s possessor power over the dead. I was quite intrigued by the hunt and dilemma with the book of the dead. The necromancer that  has taken it is trying to overthrow Shroud, the Lord of the Dead in hopes of ruling the underworld. Yes, this book has a lot of creepy power hungry struggles. I mean, there’s a necromancer trying to unseat The Lord of the Dead! That offers so many wonderful opportunities for dark and deadly fighting. The quests for this book are complicated even further when the dead can be risen to fight. It doesn’t matter whose side they fought for in life, in death they join the army of the dead and will fight whoever the wielder of the book commands them to.

This magic of this book is so powerful it could be felt by what seemed to be every individual with any magic sensitivities no matter where they were in relation to the book. And this book is seriously messing with the world in a way that can’t be ignored. Some of the players searching for the book do so of their own accord, others however have been ordered to retrieve it.  Both of which can have interesting impacts on the characters. And then there are the followers of Shroud, they are certainly not going to sit by while their Lord is challenged.

In case you didn’t guess, there is no lack of magic in this one. For those who are tired of the current day low fantasy, grim dark book, then it is certainly worth checking out.

Now, for what didn’t work for me. When I began this book, I have to confess I expected to love it. But I just can’t say that was the case. I still feel like I should have loved it, there are many great things about this book, but honestly I just didn’t. It was still good, just not as good as I expected or hoped for.

My biggest issue with the book was that somehow I just never found myself fully invested in the story or the characters (with the exception of Parolla). I was interested the other characters and events, but I just never felt completely connected with them and I think this is what held me back from loving the story as much as I wish I could. I do better when I have some emotional investment in the characters I am reading about, and sadly, that just never happened. If this had been a single POV book focusing on Parolla, I think perhaps my reaction may have been more favorable. But, that would have limited the story, and narrowed the perspective of the reader, so it wouldn’t be quite the same story. The frequent changes between POVs may have contributed to my lack of connection with the characters. But, honestly, I think there is little described in the way of emotions either. So it almost became dry, just reading action after action. I know many books are told this way, but the switching from character to character with little emotional attachment just left me, well, wanting a bit more.

For readers that are looking for a more plot driven book or are fans of older fantasy, I do still think this is worth checking out.

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10 thoughts on “Review: When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner”

  1. This book was a bit of a letdown for me as well, but I think I was expecting something a lot different from it. And in the past Steven Erickson and Glen Cook have not worked for me, so it kind of made sense this one didn’t either.

  2. Huh, the idea this book is reminiscent of Glen Cook really intrigues me, because he is probably my favorite fantasy author, but everyone’s talk of non-emotional attachment does concern, since I love character driven stories. Well, I guess I’ll just have to read it and see for myself. Wish me luck!

  3. Interesting. I did wonder how this would pan out. I only read an excerpt and at the time I was thinking 3.5 (maybe 4 although that was being generous) but I wondered if it would develop in a way I would enjoy and I haven’t really been gagging to pick it back up! I’m all about the characterisation to be honest and I nothing puts me off reading a story more than flat characters that I can’t connect with. I think there was only one character that I was really interested in and there simply wasn’t enough of her tale.
    Lynn 😀

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