[REVIEW] Wardens of Archos by Sarina Langer (Relics of Ar’Zac 2)

Author: Sarina Langer
Genre: Young adult; fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Release date: October 16th, 2017 || Pre-order and add it on Goodreads

I was provided a free ARC of Wardens of Archos by the author in exchange for an honest review.

It is a rare sequel which manages to not only match the quality and intensity of the first book but also surpass it. Yet Wardens of Archos, book two of Sarina Langer’s Relics of Ar’Zac, achieves that feat. The beginning of the novel sees the characters still reeling from the aftermath of the climax of book one. Rachael, now Queen of Rifarne, struggles with the weight of her responsibilities, her guilt over what happened to people she cared for, and her fractured relationship with Cale. Forced to flee her own home by assassins and demons, Rachael and her allies embark on a journey which may heal the tension among them. If they can survive.

The positive

Structure. Langer is a master of structure, an aspect which even authors with decades of experience struggle with, so her accomplishments are made all the more impressive. I was particularly impressed by the threads introduced in book 1 and picked up again in book 2. It shows an incredible amount of foresight and careful planning and it paid off wonderfully.

The feels. All of them. Langer knows how to tug at the heartstrings.

Characters. Each character was a complex and three dimensional person, even the side characters. There is a large supporting cast and the names of a couple of characters are very similar but I never had any problem differentiating between them as they are so wonderfully developed. In particular, I loved the internal conflict Rachael faced, and how she dealt with it.

Relationships. I loved the relationships between Rachael and her allies. It was a believable and tragic way for them to interact in the wake of so much awfulness and the steady rebuilding of those relationships was beautiful to watch. I also really enjoyed the relationship between two of the side characters which was part romance, part tragedy.

Twists. There were a number of twists which took me by surprise in the best kind of way and made the story even more compelling to read. In those moments when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it, my mind buzzing with questions and ready to dive back into it.

World. The first book was focused in Rifarne, your typical fantasy setting, but Wardens of Archos goes beyond the borders of the kingdom to explore the rich diversity of the world. It takes elements we’ve all seen before in fantasy but makes them fresh and interesting again.

The not-so-positive

Climax. While the action of the final battle was good, really good, I felt it lacked the necessary emotional space to really connect the reader to the characters’ emotions.

Style. I had trouble with Langer’s style in the first book as well and while I thought it was a lot better in Wardens of Archos, I still struggled, especially at the beginning with Langer’s habit of telling and showing the same thing so the reader is effectively told everything twice. Luckily, the story was compelling enough to push through and I am glad I did.

Length. I felt it was a little long which may have been a factor of the style I mentioned above or simply my limited tolerance for reading on my phone screen. But while each scene was crucial, some suffered from an overabundance of words (in my opinion). Despite this, the pacing didn’t suffer in any noticeable way.

Final thoughts

This was a truly enjoyable read and it was a pleasure to see how much Langer’s writing craft has developed since the first book. Already a fine storyteller, this book cements Langer’s credentials as a master of structure and connoisseur of character.

If I had to describe Wardens of Archos in a single word, it’d be compelling. Wardens of Archos has that elusive can’t-put-it-down-ness and I look forward to Langer’s next offering.

You can pre-order your copy here: AMAZON


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