Book Review: Tome of the Undergates

Tome of the Undergates (Aeons' Gate, #1)Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you read through the reviews for this book on goodreads, they boil down to two camps – the haters and the lovers. I have to admit, I originally qualified as the former the first time I tried reading this book. The book initially feels like a transcript from a frat boy fantasy RPG, with a vibe that just left me disinterested.

Time passed and the world turned, as they say, and I gave the book another shot. Read it in a week, and will probably try and get a hold of the sequel(s) at some point to boot (there’s only one as I write this, but I think Sykes has mentioned that the third volume is already done). The book is a fantasy action lark without any redeeming quality, which is the first clue to the kind of reader that will enjoy this. If you loved Abercrombie’s First Law books, but wished they had a metric ton more magic, then you’ll probably enjoy Tome. The characters aren’t really heroes or heroic, and yet by the end you understand what makes them tick (mostly), and why they are the crappy examples of morality that they are.

Cons? “Adventurers” just sounds too much like we’re describing a bunch of my fellow geeks on a Saturday night, and really shouldn’t be in a self respecting book. Also, the book can be pretty evenly divided into the half where we think everyone’s a jerk, and the half where we learn, one by one, what each character’s motivating secret is.

Pros – everything else. Don’t go looking for a lost ballad and you’ll have a blast. Watery tarts, magic fire, purple skinned warriors, elf-like pro-antagonists, demons, gates to hell, the works, all wrapped in a neat, tidy package.

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