The Unremembered – Peter Orullian

About the Book
The gods, makers of worlds, seek to create balance—between matter and energy; and between mortals who strive toward the transcendent, and the natural perils they must tame or overcome. But one of the gods fashions a world filled with hellish creatures far too powerful to allow balance; he is condemned to live for eternity with his most hateful creations in that world’s distant Bourne, restrained by a magical veil kept vital by the power of song. 

Millennia pass, awareness of the hidden danger fades to legend, and both song and veil weaken. And the most remote cities are laid waste by fell, nightmarish troops escaped from the Bourne. Some people dismiss the attacks as mere rumor. Instead of standing against the real threat, they persecute those with the knowledge, magic and power to fight these abominations, denying the inevitability of war and annihilation. And the evil from the Bourne swells…. 

The troubles of the world seem far from the Hollows where Tahn Junell struggles to remember his lost childhood and to understand words he feels compelled to utter each time he draws his bow. Trouble arrives when two strangers—an enigmatic man wearing the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far—come, to take Tahn, his sister and his two best friends on a dangerous, secret journey. 

Tahn knows neither why nor where they will go. He knows only that terrible forces have been unleashed upon mankind and he has been called to stand up and face that which most daunts him—his own forgotten secrets and the darkness that would destroy him and his world.
640 pages (hardcover)
Published: April 12, 2011
Published by: Tor
Author’s webpage
Thanks to Tor for sending me an ARC of this book.
Joseph Campbell, an American Mythologist, streamlined and made popular the hero’s journey. This journey is the typical path a hero takes when he goes from normal to something special in myth and legend. While this isn’t a new idea by any means, Campbell seemed to popularize it amongst those who enjoy learning about that sort of thing. It is, perhaps, one of the things he is known best for.
In many ways The Unremembered reminds me quite a bit of Campbell’s hero’s journey. It’s fairly traditional, and the character development is fairly predictable but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like Campbell’s hero’s journeyThe Unremembered seems to find that spot in its readers where we overlook predictability (to some extent) and lay in for a good old fashioned fantasy tale where the line between good and evil is obvious and nobodies can become somebodies.
While many reviewers compare The Unremembered to The Wheel of Time or Tolkien, two comparisons I do agree with, I find the comparison I used above to be slightly more fitting. While this is an epic fantasy tale, at its root it’s a book which highlights the hero’s journey that Campbell popularized. Tahn and his group are easy to become familiar with, perhaps because we have read about their journey in one form or another in numerous different stories. They are taking part in the hero’s journey, and it is nearly impossible to escape in literature in some form or another.
However, this use of the hero’s journey in epic fantasy, specifically characters starting as nothings and developing into very distinct somethings, can be double edged. While it can be enjoyable, slightly comforting and hearken back to the days of good ‘ol fantasy, readers may be unable to let go of literary comparisons (such as comparisons to The Wheel of Time series) and just enjoy the book for what it is. The Unremembered does have a slightly tired, been-there-done-that air to it.
Despite that, Orullian has packed quite a punch with The Unremembered. It did take about a hundred pages for me to fully grasp and feel involved in the plot and characters, but Orullian’s writing pulled me through that rough start. While his prose start out slightly choppy, and dialogue does, at times, have an uncomfortable feel to it, by the end of the book he’s mostly smoothed himself out. The Unremembered can get a little overly descriptive at times, but overall is written with such smooth confidence that can be overlooked. Despite these small flaws, Orullian keeps the plot moving and character development proceeding at a good pace.
At its roots, The Unremembered is a coming-of-age tale taking place in a well-developed and textured world. Orullian fills his lands with interesting peoples, cultures and doesn’t stilt on the problems and conflicts each faces, all the while tying it in nicely with the plot. Despite the other problems this book may face, I feel Orullian should be recognized for creating a well-rounded, epic world to fit his epic plot. It was a wonderful and, at times, a vivid and rich backdrop to the book as a whole.
Characterization, for the most part, was well done. Each character realistically struggles with inner conflict as well as the situations they were in. However, at times their reactions, or actions didn’t quite make logical sense to me. Some of the relationships didn’t feel as natural as I’m sure they were meant to feel. Orullian did drop a few characters into The Unremembered without giving much of a background as to who they were. These issues did create a slight disconnect between me and the book as a whole. However, Orullian does manage to rise above these flaws and create well rounded, three dimensional characters many readers will find themselves sympathizing with. 
Despite all of this, one underlying truth regarding The Unremembered is the fact that it is realistic in many ways. The characters struggle both internally and externally with their circumstances. The world is full of varying cultures, each with their own positives and negatives. There is plenty of action and a constant journey with new and evolving scenery to keep readers occupied. While this is, by no means, a perfect book, it is a realistic one in many ways that fantasy sometimes falls short of. The Unremembered is packed full of lights and darks, both stylistically, and with the world and the characters themselves and that really makes it shine and show off its potential.
While I am not absolutely blown away by The Unremembered, there is promise here. Orullian shows definite potential as an author. Though the start is somewhat shaky, Orullian quickly works himself out, making his prose and world building the highlight of my experience with this book. If the plot did seem somewhat exhausted by other books written before it, readers who become engaged in the storyline will, most likely, overlook that. The Unremembered is a traditional tale taking place in a world with very distinct goods and evils accompanied by well-rounded characters, each filled with their own inner demons.
3.5/5 stars

6 Responses

  • Seak (Bryce L.)

    You said it. 🙂 Great review.

  • Sarah (Bookworm Blues)

    Thank you 🙂

  • ediFanoB

    The Unremembered is not my cup of tea.

    I stopped reading after 98 pages.

    I remember when I read the blurb for the first time. I decided that I did not want to read this book. So I did not make it to my list. Then I received an ARC from Tor and I still did not want to read it. Finally my wife convinced me to give THE UNREMEMBERED a try and I did. I should have trusted my first impression …

    It started promising with the prologue but then …
    – I never got any connection to one of the characters
    – I did not find the rhythm of the book
    – I felt separated from the story
    – The style of the author was not my cup of tea

    We can't love every book.

  • Bibliotropic

    This is a book I've seen on a few other blogs and it really caught my eye. You're lucky to have gotten an ARC of it; I'm envious! It's good to know that it really does seem to be a decent book, too. Not spectacular, from the reviews I've been seeing, but still enjoyable enough to be worth picking up.

  • Travis

    Great review Sarah! This one is coming up in my "to reads" and I can't wait. Orullian has done some great things as far as marketing and grasping his love for writing. He has done several interviews with other authors that pose great questions about life as an author. I think that really shows a deep rooted passion for what he loves. The Cradle of the Scar Videos are pretty awesome too in my humble opinion. Well, thanks again for the great review!

  • Nathaniel Katz

    I've heard a lot about this one, but I'm not sure it's really my style. A fantastic review could sway me, but I doubt it'll happen.

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