About the book
Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they’re not insulting each other’s religions they’re arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don’t go very well.
They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates – a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don’t want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out.
Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.
This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.
You can purchase this book by clicking on the following link: Tome of the Undergates (The Aeons’ Gate, Book 1)
Tome of the Undergates is an interesting read. Sykes takes a very traditional plotline (an unlikely group of individuals on a quest against all odds etc.) and twists it into something incredibly unique. Sykes formats his book differently, taking up half of the book in a gory, detailed battle scene which he uses to not only introduce characters, but the overarching plot as well.
Admittedly, I have a hard time with boats and I have a hard time with long, drawn out battle scenes. Sykes gets huge props for managing a battle scene that is incredibly long, but never seems to lack detail or lose the reader’s interest. Not only that, but much of this battle takes place on a boat. Normally that would turn me off completely, but Sykes manages to keep me engaged with his witty dialogue and the unique way he keeps the story unfolding. However, this is a double-edged sword, as the battle is quite long and it might cause some readers to wish that the book could move onto something else quicker. It doesn’t really seem like the plot starts really moving until the characters have moved beyond the battle and onto something else.
Tome of the Undergates has a level of depth that, honestly, surprised me. Sykes doesn’t shy away from the grit and gore, and often couches some deeper plot threads in witty dialogue, but it is there. There are some interesting racial tensions that Sykes deals with in this book. While many readers might focus on the witty banter and back-and-forth exchanges, there’s very interesting relationships that it might distract from. That being said, it’s rather fascinating to see how Sykes evolves character relationships as the book progresses.
The world building is vibrant, but there is a feel to it that something is lacking – it’s a bit fuzzy around the edges. There’s obvious room for Sykes to expand and elaborate in future books. However, this developed-but-undeveloped feel to the world might frustrate some readers who want a fully developed and completely real world in the first book and don’t want to wait for the series to continue for more expansion.
Sykes is an author that is rather polarized. For example, Tome of the Undergates is a very aggressive book, with some incredibly aggressive writing. In fact, this is the kind of book that doesn’t request your full attention, but demands it. However, in counterpoint to this are some startlingly open, honest and rather peaceful descriptions that are rather mind blowing. It’s really interesting to see how Sykes can vassilate in one book, swinging from aggressive to peaceful and lyrical in the space of (at times) a few pages. It really shows the potential Sykes has to be an author of books crossing the spectrum of styles and tones.
Whatever your view of Tome of the Undergates, this is a book that has generated a lot of discussion and attention among speculative fiction fans. Sam Sykes shows his versatility as an author, and his ability to retain a wonderful amount of depth, character and world development despite the witty banter and descriptive battles that might burden the plot at some points. Sykes has made a splash in speculative fiction with Tome of the Undergates, and has cemented a wonderful foundation for a wildly successful writing career.