Review | Voice of War – Zack Argyle

About the Book

While preparing for the birth of his first child, Chrys Valerian is tasked with uncovering the group responsible for a series of missing threadweavers–those able to see and manipulate threadlight. With each failure, the dark voice in his head grows louder, begging to be released.

A young girl from a secret city in the center of the Fairenwild veers off course to explore the streets of Alchea. She never expected that her journey would end in chains.

Far in the deserts to the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.

When Chrys learns who is responsible for the missing threadweavers, they come for him and his family. He must do everything in his power to protect those he loves, even if it means trusting strangers or, worse, the dark voice in his mind.

Together, they will change the world–whether they intend to or not. 

380 pages (kindle)
Published October, 2020
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I’ve followed Zack Argyle online for a while. He seems like a nice guy, and he puts out some interesting content. I honestly kind of avoided reading his books for a while because I knew so many people were lavishing them with praise, and I get nervous at times like that. What if I’m the one person who reads this thing and doesn’t like it? Then I feel like a terrible person and it’s a whole thing.

So, with some trepidation, I picked up Voice of War

I’ve been on a bit of a kick recently wherein I’ve been actively searching out books that more or less remind me of classic fantasy, the stuff I read when I was falling in love with the genre. Groups of people pitted against big odds, with magic systems that are cunningly crafted, and huge battles looming on the horizon. I have been wanting to read fantasy with a lot of soul. Books that remind me why I love the genre. 

And I’ve been finding them. I have been lucky enough to edit a few of them, but I’ve also been lucky in finding books like Voice of War, wherein these elements are all present, and yet different, as well. Twisted just enough to make this book feel fresh and new, and completely Zack Argyle’s own.

I have seen a lot of comparisons between Argyle’s books and Brandon Sanderson, and I do feel like there are some threads there. There are similarities in the manner of storytelling and specifically some elements of the magic system, but I think we devalue Argyle’s work as a whole if we compare it to Sanderson too much. I feel, almost, like some of the elements of this book were put there as homage to authors and stories Argyle admires, and I found this to be both touching and extremely well done. I love trying to pick out author’s influences, and I got a real kick out of finding some perfume in these pages, Eau de Sanderson with notes of Brent Weeks and a few others as well.

It was obvious to me from the start that Argyle wrote this book with a lot of passion and a whole lot of his soul was poured into this. The worldbuilding, in my estimation, was one of the places where the author’s love for his subject really shone. Crafted with care and put together with a lot of thought and attention to detail, his world is dynamic and multi-facetted with peoples and creatures that are as complex and layered as our own. I love a world steeped in a variety of cultures, and I love when authors show how these cultures coexist, both in harmony and not, and Argyle did this well. There are points of peace, but under all of this, is a feeling of tension. And these textures in his worldbuilding, this attention to detail and the diversity of the places and cultures we are introduced to go a long way toward building up the atmosphere, tension, and stakes in the book as a whole. 

His world interested me, his story gripped me. 

The characters are all well done, though perhaps a bit weaker in development than the worldbuilding. Flawed and complex, they are captivating, each in their own way. We have the brutal wartime hero, Chrys. Laurel, who is a messenger, and Alverax, who was dead and now very much is not. The characters were an interesting but mixed bag. I loved Chrys, and the weight of his legacy. Laurel felt like the best crafted of the characters. Alverax was a bit weaker (due largely, I think, to his shorter amount of stage time than the other two), but his voice was the most memorable. Regardless, I think Argyle laid a good foundation for the next book in the series, and I cannot wait to see what he does with the character development he’s established in Voices of War.

With unexpected twists and turns, this book is a fraction of a length of a lot of the epic fantasy out there. Yet due to careful pacing, attention to detail, and plenty of surprises, it proves that a book does not need to be 1,000 pages long to be a sweeping epic.

The magic system was just as interesting as the world building, though this is probably where the author will see the most comparisons to Sanderson and Weeks, and yeah, I see those similarities there, but this is also where Argyle shines. Complex and layered, this magic system truly is all Argyle’s own. I’d go into the details, but I don’t really want to give anything away. Suffice it to say, I loved it. I loved not just how magic was used and how threadlight was manipulated, but I loved how it impacted society as a whole, taking this already complex world Argyle has created, and dividing it even more. Status and station are pretty big deals in this book, though often subtly so, and Argyle deals with a lot of nuance and implication deftly which could have huge ramifications in the rest of the series.

So, where does that leave us? 

This was one of those books I went into not knowing what to expect and left absurdly glad I’d read it. The world building and magic systems shine, and some of the character work is just stunning. The book isn’t overly long, and yet I felt like Argyle packed every page to the brim with memorable moments and interesting developments.

Voices of War was both a love letter to fantasy, and remarkable story unlike anything else out there. This was extremely strong start to a series I cannot wait to read more of. Argyle is an author to watch. 

4/5 stars