Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Full transparency: Mike (the author) and I are friends. Have been for years. Yet, I’m a pretty shit friend, as even though he sent me copies of all of his books, it took me ages to read them. Well, finally, I got started on this long overdue series! Solace Lost is the first book in the Pandemonium series, which I recommend you check out. Especially if you love supporting self-published fantasy!
Publisher: Self-Published | Release Date: April 2018 | Pages: 559
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Grimdark | Format: Paperback | Source: Gift
During times of war, no one goes unscathed. By Ultner, even in times of peace, few can escape suffering. Ardia is on the brink of civil war, though most citizens are woefully unaware of this fact.
Fenrir de Trenton, a disgraced guardsman-turned-ineffective-criminal, is accustomed to taking orders. So much so that, despite the danger, he finds himself neck-deep in the politicking of his current superiors as well as the rulers of the country. The fact that Fenrir’s father would rather see him dead doesn’t help matters.
Emma Dram, a handmaiden of the great Lady Escamilla, hates Fenrir with a fiery passion and with good reason: he lopped off most of her hand. Nonetheless, she finds herself in close proximity to her former lover as she seeks to serve her lady liege in fomenting her own rebellion.
Hafgan Iwan is a Wasmer, a race reviled by humans, who serves the same masters as Fenrir. His efforts to assimilate with human culture only earn him the derision of his own race, and he seeks to find belonging amidst the escalating conflict.
Meanwhile, Merigold Hinter, a serving girl with an unusual power, lives a simple existence, hoping for love, adventure, and to see the world. Her life should be untouched by political maneuvering and war. However, her world becomes a crucible—how much can one woman bear before breaking?
A story of love lost and family destroyed, of bigotry and belonging, of suffering and strength, and of religion and magic, SOLACE LOST grows from a character-driven tale to something grand in scale, perhaps even involving the gods, themselves.
On the Page
- Physical abuse
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Well-written and enjoyable to read. I’m not sure what it was, but I was immediately swept into this story and just enjoyed in immensely. It was easy to get situated into this world and I enjoyed the slow unfolding of characters, plots and various threads coming together to weave throughout the larger narrative. It was easy to read 50+ pages in a sitting and hard to put down!
- Complex plot and characters. Likewise, I enjoyed the plot and the characters, especially. All of our characters are complex and varied, and I have things I like and dislike about each of them (though Emma is my favorite). I’m very curious to see what happens in the next book of the series!
- Both surprised and validated. This is rare for me, but I was able to guess a plot point before it happened, picking up the clues before the character did, which made me feel awesome. But, there were also plenty of things I didn’t predict, which is not only on par for me usually, but also was just pleasant to experience and spoke to the depth within this story.
- Rape. I already had seen this trigger warning before reading this book, so I knew what I was getting into and, while I still highly enjoyed this book, I am over rape being used as a plot point within the genre entirely, so it’s an aspect I automatically dislike whenever I see it used within any book.
- Formatting. This is such a minor thing, but the fact that there were spaces between every paragraph made me sad. 😂
- Questionable plot-threads. I can’t speak more because of spoilers, but there is one plot-thread in particular that felt underdeveloped and forgotten most of the book, until it comes up again at the end, which was just a bit confusing.
I don’t read a ton of grimdark, but I survived Solace Lost intact. Very happy that a book I’ve been looking forward to for a while did not disappoint, especially since it’s written by a friend. Hopefully, it doesn’t take years to read the next installment in the series!