As an avid Audible user, I often find myself looking through their Plus Catalog, books, and podcasts that are tied in with the monthly subscription. I had finished The Godfather, had a couple of weeks before my next credit, and wanted to start a new adventure. Most of the Plus Catalog is things like classic, Audible exclusive podcasts and the occasional current trending stories. It was with this I was put on to another fantasy series to carry on in my post-Way Of Kings life. And boy, what a ride it has been.
To my surprise I haven’t found much about this trilogy outside of Audible, sure there are Goodreads reviews and the occasional comment about it here and there but no real following, most of the thoughts on it being lukewarm. But as I finished the third book in The War of the Archons Series by R. S. Ford I was completely enamored. This fantasy tale (I hesitate to call it an epic since it’s rather short in terms) follows a world 100 years after what was known as ‘the fall’. A time when the gods abandon the mortal realm, taking all divine blessings and magic with them. What resulted was a war-torn time where kingdoms fought one another, death cults ran rampant in the deserts and chaos reined supreme.
It is in this facet we learn about one of the main characters, a mercenary turned Duke honor guard, Josten Cade. A cynical, quick-tongued, poor-judgment swordsman who is well-known in his hometown of Sutterfield. Josten, as it’s told very early on, has a bit of a problem with a couple of things. He doesn’t have many friends, is followed by death everywhere he goes, and his ultimate undoing, is his longing for the Duke’s wife. Playing too close to fire one too many times he finds himself in the Duke’s ire (a nice way of saying he tried to have him executed) and on the run jumping from mercenary group to mercenary group all the while a farm girl named Livia discovers she is the first person in a century that can wield magic. What follows is a violence-filled adventure that spans many characters along the way, an adventure that hooked me.
I think a lot can be said about the Archon trilogy, sifting through some other readers’ thoughts on the series a couple of things become clear. This isn’t a fantasy story for the ages, the world-building is fine but not spectacular. The overall story is rather predictable and common in the idea of good vs evil. There is an odd amount of erotic scenes just in the first book then it never really comes up again in the following two. Also, everyone wants to fuck this Duke’s wife which is kinda weird cause my all account she sucks. No, I think the real beauty of what Ford was able to put together in this series isn’t the world, but the people.
Weaving together four different rejoins with fairly different civilizations, by the third book we are following a multi-cultured army and know everything about their leaders, where they came from, how they got there, their personalities, and even how they adapt to communicate with one another. Josten never stops being a miserable cunt but as he travels with the strong-willed and bright Livia, he reflects more fondly on his life. We are introduced to Sertanker, a militia man with the ambition of all who are young and in the military. He dreams of praise and battle only to discover he is a coward and not cut out for wanton murder. Ford also shows he isn’t afraid to kill off any of his characters no matter how page time they get beforehand, setting an air of tension.
All and all my thoughts on this series can be surmised by three things. My adoration for Josten and whatever he gets into, the engagement between the world and the characters, and dialogue. The Archon trilogy is simply fun and deserving of the read so if you’re in the market for a clean uncomplicated fantasy and aren’t afraid of violence and language this series might just be what you’re looking for. As always thanks for the read!