Book Review: The Way of Edan by Philip Chase - The Fantasy Review

Book Review: The Way of Edan by Philip Chase

Esmay Rosalyne’s Review of The Way of Edan by Philip Chase

Publication Date: 17 March 2023
Series: Book One in the Edan Trilogy
Genre: Classical Fantasy
Pages: 448

Author’s Blurb

The Kingdom of the Eternal will awaken when the Way of Edan holds sway over all of Eormenlond. So say the prophecies. With unrivalled power in the gift, the Supreme Priest Bledla leads Torrlond and its mighty army to convert rival kingdoms by the sword and by the fang.

Among the gathering resistance is the sorceress Sequara, whose mission is to protect her island and her Andumaic faith from the Torrlonders’ aggression.

As holy war looms over the kingdoms of Eormenlond, a chance encounter bestows a terrible curse upon a young man. Dayraven’s curse may decide Eormenlond’s fate. But first, with the help of unlikely friends, he must survive the shattering of his world.

Equal parts epic and lament, The Way of Edan is the lyrical opening of The Edan Trilogy.

Review of The Way of Edan

Review of The Way of Edan

To say I was excited to read The Way of Edan would probably be the understatement of the year. Though at the same time, I have to admit that I was also a bit nervous to dive in because of the Beowulf influences and frequent Tolkien comparisons. I’ll be the first to admit that I am fairly easy to please as a reader, but I do generally tend to favour the more inventive and modern approaches to fantasy over the traditional and Tolkienesque type of stories. So… did our dear Dr. Fantasy manage to win me over? Let’s find out.

This story is set in the world of Eormenlond, which is threatened by a holy war that is on the verge of breaking out. While we follow a plethora of interesting characters on all sides of the conflict, the focus lies mostly on three central figures who all end up having a pivotal role to play in the brewing war.

I personally immediately latched onto all of these characters, which I honestly wasn’t expecting. In my experience, traditional/classic style fantasy tends to not have the most nuanced and compelling characters, but the opposite couldn’t be more true here. Yes, we have a pretty typical young and naïve chosen-one hero, but then we also get a strong and cunning sorceress who is heir to a queendom and a morally complex priest who is blinded by his faith. And even though I maybe would’ve liked to see a bit more character development for some of them and wasn’t as emotionally invested in them as I prefer to be, there’s just no denying that they were absolutely fascinating to follow.

Also, while I definitely had a favourite character (Sequara, obviously!!), there wasn’t a single moment where I wished to be reading from another perspective. Each of these characters had a very strong and distinct voice, so I was always immediately engaged again after a POV shift. And even though I just said that Sequara was my favourite character, which I stand by, I also really loved getting a close look into the minds of the antagonists of this story. It really added a layer of nuance and depth to the story that I greatly appreciated, because it perfectly showcased that there is no simple good vs. evil situation here, it’s truly all a matter of perspective. Now, I am not saying that you will find yourself rooting for the ‘bad guys’, but I think you will be surprised by how easily you can understand their motivations and (vile) actions.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the level of darkness in this story, which was immediately introduced in the gripping and shocking prologue. Don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely not a grimdark novel, but there were definitely some gory scenes and terrifying creatures that really unsettled me in the best way possible. I mean, scary elves? Who wouldn’t love that?
Also, heavy themes of religious fanaticism, prejudice, bigotry, greed, hatred and fear are very prominent in this story, but they never felt on-the-nose or overbearing. And that’s not just because they were subtly and masterfully woven into the narrative, but also because the weight of those heavy themes was beautifully balanced out with more wholesome themes of friendship, empathy, loyalty, compassion, found family and love.

This book was just incredibly spellbinding on all kinds of levels, from the immersive worldbuilding, to the compelling character- and themework, to the tense political and religious conflict, and finally to the lyrical and entrancing prose.

I have said many times that I am not a visual reader and often struggle to get fully immersed, but Chase just has a magical way with words and I was totally transported into the world of Eormenlond. You can just feel the love, passion and effort that has gone into the creation of this world, which I really enjoyed. The soft magic system also filled me with wonder and added an air of mystery and intrigue to the story that I really appreciated.

And even though there were some lulls in the pacing, especially around the middle section, I was always happy to be reading this book because I just loved spending time in this world. In the end, I think the slower parts actually really paid off, because it all built up to an incredibly action-packed and explosive ending that has me super excited for future instalments.

So, safe to say I am deeply impressed by this debut novel! And now I am almost ashamed to admit that I initially felt nervous to start this book. From the moment I started reading, I knew I should never have doubted Chase’s ability to write a compelling and nuanced story. Seriously, don’t let the fact that this is more of a traditional/classic fantasy put you off if that isn’t your usual preference, because this book really stands out from the crowd and I think there is something to love here for any type of fantasy reader. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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