Rob J. Hayes - Along the Razor's Edge
I have had quite a number of Rob J. Hayes's books on my Kindle for some time and I eventually got around to reading Along a Razors Edge. Now I have to ask to myself why the heck have I left it so long. This book is quite simply brilliant.
There are so many things to like in this book, but it is mainly the character of fifteen year old Eskara, or more importantly what she is to become.
The book is written in a first person narrative from the point of view of Eskara, an Orran sorcerer who, along with her almost brother Josef, has been captured in the war against the Terrans and thrown into the brutal prison called the pit.
We then follow Eskara's life in the pit and the harsh, miserable existence that both her and Josef endure. The constant harassment from Prig, the team leader. In addition to that she has the overseer of the prison taking a special interest in her.
The story recounts Eskara’s time in the Pit and the trials and tribulations that she experiences in her everyday experiences. As we move through Eskara’s tale, we learn that as a child she was taken to the Orran Academy to learn Sorcery. We see how she developed as a mage and how she ended up incarcerated in the pit. In addition to that, we learn of her future and the path that she takes to become The Corpse Queen. She narrates how she has to dig in the Pit and ultimately the initial part of her, much larger story.
I must say that I was immediately invested in Eskara’s story from the opening paragraph. Eskara herself is a fascinating character and it is her voice that we hear. At times she is scathing of the system, yet there are moments of tenderness, especially with Josef, who she perceives as her brother. She tells us that throughout her time in the Academy they are virtually inseparable and that they are two halves of the same coin.
Rob J. Hayes does a fantastic job of taking familiar themes that you find in fantasy and breathing fresh life into them. For instance, there is a coming of age tale entwined with found family and also a wizarding school. However, Rob J. Hayes twists these tropes and makes them interesting and fresh.
You cannot help rooting for Eskara, even though you know that her character is not particularly full of decent moral fibre. However, you swiftly realise that she is a product of circumstances and that if her road had been different she would have been very different.
There are so many things to like in this book. Obviously Eskara steals the page every time she is there. However the book is filled with vivid side characters that are equally as fascinating as Eskara.
The story itself is told by moving through different points in time. At times it is told as memories from Eskara’s past, but you also get hints of her future and what she is to become later in life.
I think one of the most interesting aspects of Rob J. Hayes’s writing in this book is the way that he manages to build the world, giving little snippets of the world above the pit, whilst painting a vivd picture of the claustrophobic, confined environment of the pit.
The magic system fits the story well, and rather than massive info dumped about how the magic system works, it is eventually revealed and explained throughout the story. We learn how it works and also the limitations that is placed on the user.
However, the main star of the show is Rob J. Hayes’s writing. The story itself is engaging and well written, with fantastic characters and and a plot that keeps you turning the page till you get to the end and subsequently wanting to find out what happens in the rest of the story.