Tuesday 14 April 2020

Blog Tour- The War of the Snakes

After the death of his older brother, Sam just wants to be left alone. His parents are practically ignoring his existence, making him feel guilty for being the surviving brother, and he’s started to have some very strange dreams that seem almost a little too real. His dreams always involve the same place and the same people, where everyone believes he is “The One,” a prophesied hero who is going to save them all, and restore peace to their world. As the dreams become more vivid, Sam starts to wonder if there is more to these dreams. They couldn’t be real… could they?

So today I am on the War of the Snakes blog tour. I’m going to be focusing on reviewing The Awakened, the first book in the series, but I’m going to briefly share my thoughts on the second book too. I will post a full review on the second book later this week so please look forward to that!

The idea of this series immediately caught my interest, and the dreaming aspect made me think of Ronan Lynch from The Raven Cycle. However, it soon became obvious that this book was nothing like Ronan’s dream world, as we learn that Sam is actually travelling between worlds when he falls asleep. I found this really interesting, and I loved learning about Maunga-Atua and it’s culture. Watamka in particular reminded me of Wakanda from Black Panther, and as the two names even sound similar it made me wonder if this was deliberate. As there were so many places to keep track of, I think the book would have benefited from having a map to refer to as it was confusing to keep track of Sam’s journey at times. I do have to say though that this problem was rectified in the sequel, as the book actually had multiple maps! Honestly I wish I’d took a peek inside book two while reading The Awakened, as it would have probably helped me to figure out where Sam was in book one.

The book started out quite confusing, as each time Sam finds himself in Maunga-Atua, he wakes up in a different spot from last time. We do learn in book two that time moves differently in the two worlds, so this was probably the reason for this, but I felt that it should have been explained in book one to lessen the confusion! We never really know how much time has passed between the visits or how Sam arrived at his current location, and this is never really explained. I felt like this was something that should have been explained, as the plot was difficult to get to grips with without unexplainable travel. We soon learn that Sam has been here before and posessed great power, but after facing Lord Elim head on, he disappeared only to appear weeks later with his memory wiped. I loved how we were kept in the dark with Sam about why everyone seemed to know him and had high expectations for him to save everyone. Sam has no idea how to navigate this strange new world, and yet everyone sees him as their saviour. It was easy to feel sorry for Sam for having to bare such a great burden.

I loved the mixture of fantasy and reality. Along with having problems in his dreams, Sam and his parents are grieving the loss of his brother David. I was wondering if David’s death was linked to the dream world, but alas it seems to be completely unrelated. I think it would have been more interesting if David had been able to travel to Maunga-Atua too, and died as a result of that, but I can also respect that Sam’s two lives were separate with separate issues. Sam seemed a little naive when it came to the dreams, as each time he woke up he just brushed them off as weird dreams and didn’t start to question them until near the end of the book. I’d like to think that if I was having elaborate dreams in the same world every night, I’d probably actually question them! I loved how Sam’s two worlds started to collide towards the end of the book, finally forcing him to accept the truth.

Although the characters had potential, I felt as if non of them were properly fleshed out apart from Sam and Babu, and to some extend Alice. Ma-aka was an interesting character, a young man who had befriended Sam before Sam had lost his memories. The problem was he just wasn’t in the book enough to get to know him properly, and although there was the potential for him and Sam to form a strong bond like they had had in the past, it just wasn’t executed. Ma-aka had the potential to be a great friend and ally, and I felt like this was built on a little in the second book, but again despite the book being almost 600 pages long, Sam and Ma-aka just didn’t interact enough. They were often travelling separately, and even when they did travel together they barely talked. As they were constantly referring to each other as soulmates, talked about staying together forever and had practically adopted a child together I did at one point think there was going to be a romance between them, but sadly this didn’t happen. I’m usually fine with there being no romance in a fantasy series, but I think a romance between Sam and Ma-aka would have helped to break up the constant slaughter a little!

The only relationship that seemed well developed was between Sam and his padme, Babu. Padme’s are animal companions that reminded me of daemons from His Dark Materials. Although Sam was initially afraid of Babu, he soon came to trust him and accept him as his companion. Babu was an interesting character and seemed like a cross between a raccoon, a lizard and a bush baby. Honestly I couldn’t properly picture Babu in my head he seemed so strange! I loved how Sam and Babu were able to communicate telepathically, and how Babu explained a lot of things that Sam still didn’t understand. Honestly I think having a padme would be pretty awesome!

Although there were some issues with this book that needed ironing out, I enjoyed it overall and thought it was a good start to the series. The ending left us in an exciting place to go forward from, and made me want to immediately pick up the next book! After reading the first two books I definitely want to finish this series and find out how everything ends.

And the sequel?
So as this blog tour is for The War of the Snakes, the sequel to The Awakened, I just want to briefly share some of my thoughts on it. There’s so much to unpack that I’m planning on writing a full review, but I thought I’d give a watered down one here!

I was surprised that the story telling completely changed in this book! The first book alternated chapters between our world and Maunga- Atua, but this one took place mostly in Maunga- Atua. I felt like the first book threw us out of the action quite a lot, so I loved that this didn’t’ happen in this book, as Sam spends the majority of the novel in Maunga- Atua, and only briefly goes back to his world. It did make me wonder what was going on in Sam’s family though. How long was he gone? Were his parents missing him? So many unanswered questions!

We were introduced to quite a few characters in this book, with only a couple from the first book staying with Sam for a good portion of his journey. I loved the new characters especially Ba- Shem, a Monk who was a bit of a pyromaniac! I did miss the characters from the first book though, as some of them only appeared very briefly. Honestly I wanted more Alice! I was also disappointed that Ma-aka, who ended up being my favourite character in the first book was absent for a large portion of it. I hope he gets a lot more attention in the last book to make up for it ⁽ᵖˡᵉᵃˢᵉ ᵇʳᶦⁿᵍ ʰᶦᵐ ᵇᵃᶜᵏ ᴶᵘˡᶦᵃⁿᵎ⁾

I think I did overall enjoy the first book more, as this one was a little too long and seemed to drag in places. However I did love getting to see more of this world, and learn more about the Bjarke. I’m assuming the last book will take place mostly on Earth, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that pans out, although I am secretly hoping that Sam returns to Maunga-Atua at some point!

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