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Publisher's Summary

If you pick a fight with Shroud, Lord of the Dead, you had better ensure your victory, else death will mark only the beginning of your suffering.

A book giving its wielder power over the dead has been stolen from a fellowship of mages that has kept the powerful relic dormant for centuries. The thief, a crafty, power-hungry necromancer, intends to use the Book of Lost Souls to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld. Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artifact at all cost. However, the god is not the only one interested in the book, and a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed. Among them is a reluctant Guardian who is commissioned by the emperor to find the stolen book, a troubled prince who battles enemies both personal and political, and a young girl of great power whose past uniquely prepares her for an encounter with Shroud.

The greatest threat to each of their quests lies not in the horror of an undead army but in the risk of betrayal from those closest to them. Each of their decisions comes at a personal cost and will not only affect them but also determine the fate of their entire empire. The first of an epic swords-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy, Marc Turner's When the Heavens Fall features gritty characters, deadly magic, and meddlesome gods.

©2015 Marc Turner (P)2015 Audible Inc.

Critic Reviews

“A splendid launch. Turner’s unquestionably a newcomer to watch.” (Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Grim, Dark, Ponderous... Grim, Dark, Ponderous...

The book begins with a lot of promise and there is a sense of a diverse world and epic plot that is going to be explored. But it fails to deliver. Instead, the range of characters that we are introduced to all descend for fairly specious and uninspiring reasons upon the same rather boring plot macguffin, but they do so very very very very slowly.

The pacing of the book is problematic. Essentially, the entire story embodies the journey of each of the main characters from their starting points on the map to the macguffin. This takes a really, really long time and there are many scenes where the characters are just traveling and engaging in yet another skirmish with some of the book's main denizens of the night, seemingly just to take up space.

On that note, one of the things that is established very early on in the book is that the main denizens of the night are unkillable. When they are first introduced, they are billed as being terrifyingly powerful because they are skilled in combat but cannot be killed. Yet, as the book goes on, the main characters seem to be able to just brush them aside with increasing ease, despite most of them lacking a mechanism for actually killing these denizens. They become a kind of storm trooper backdrop to most of the scenes - the various heroes encountering huge hordes of undead and then just sort of rushing through them to get to the true heart of each scene (often even nastier monsters, that get fairly quickly brushed aside as well), without encountering any significant problems from doing so. This gets rather silly and makes the fact that we have to trawl through numerous such encounters even more tedious.

More broadly, basically everything in the book is depressing and morose. Even the various gods introduced in the book are all dark gods (the lord of death, the spider, the lord of the hunt) and we get few if any equivalent light deities. No one ever seems to laugh in the book (except darkly) and everything seems to be, well, grim and dark. It gets both monotonous and depressing after a while. I found none of the characters particularly likeable or relatable to, except for possibly one character who had a nice kind of playful evil to them (rather than the other tragic heroes and grim anti-heroes of the book), but they were killed for seemingly no apparent reason towards the end. Hmmm.

In addition, there were too many contrivances and conveniently synchronized events, like several of the main characters all turning up at the plot macguffin at the same time, immediately recognizing each other as fellow heroes (despite never having met before or knowing anything about each other) and then helping each other in exactly the ways needed for them to win the day.

Finally, the end of the book is rather silly because it essentially makes the rest of the book completely unnecessary. The event that happens to bring the main story line to a close would have happened regardless of what the main heroes did...so what was the point exactly?

The reader was okay, but perhaps could injected a bit more life into their tone. Yes, the book's content is very downbeat and morose, but maybe that could have been a bit more offset by the reader trying to put a bit more cheer into their reading, rather than sounding like they were giving a funeral oration.

Overall, then, the book had some promise at the outset, but it failed to explore the potential of the world in which it was placed, deployed characters who were bleak and uninspiring, revolved too much around a single rather uninteresting plot macguffin, and came across as just too morose and grim to be enjoyable. In addition, the book was way too long, it took far too much time for anything interesting to happen, there were too many artificial contrivances at the book's culmination, and the plotline was ultimately trumped by the fact that the main characters were essentially unnecessary for the final events to unfold. Sadly, I must recommend against this book.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent fantasy novel

The start was somewhat diffused, but once the characters came into focus, the plot was set and story carried me away.

The world is well rendered, the magic systems richly diverse, the main characters fairly complex. The Narrator is one of the best, and did a really good job bringing the characters to life.

When the Heavens Fall is well worth a listen.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A Good Fantasy!

[3.5 stars]

‘When the Heavens Fall’ reads a lot like most fantasies do, which is both good and bad. Good because it’s a fun read while you’re at it, interesting and unique enough that you’re enjoying it while you’re in the book. But also disappointing because it really isn’t anything different from what a lot of other fantasy books have to offer. That is, while it clearly has it’s own story, characters, and world, it doesn’t manage to stand out on it’s own. It’s unique but not anything fresh or innovative.

Having said that, I am aware of the fact that this is the author’s debut novel and I do realize it’s only the beginning of a series. So while I made my way through this at a reasonable pace, if I do pick up the next installment in the series, I’m definitely hoping for more excitement. What I can say was more enjoyable was that the author offers more than one perspective in the story. A lot of the other fantasy I’ve read either just follows first person or opt out for third person omniscient. With this one, you get a lot of voices with their own stories so that aspect is a bit more filling in this book than in some other fantasies. At times, I was also reminded somewhat of ‘The Way of Kings,’ but mostly in that we get more than one perspective.

I also enjoyed that we are required to learn about the fantasy world more via conversations and as the story moves along rather than major sections of info-dump where the authors pauses to explain the history of one thing or another. Sanderson does have a habit of dragging things out and while at times ‘When the Heavens Fall’ did slow down for me, I don’t think it necessarily drags at any point.

Because I read this on audiobook, I must also point out that while the narrator—Oliver Wyman—does an excellent job at the voices, the narration of regular passages did seem a tad tedious. It often felt like he was narrating the book with his head down and his voice seemed a bit stifled. I’m speculating about this of course, but I just thought it strange that he does the character voices with such expertise but then I would have so much trouble concentrating on the regular, non-dialogue text. If I had to rate the narration separately, I would give it four stars.

I would recommend this if you’re just looking for an easy fantasy read. If you want something wholly unique and original, this probably doesn’t have a lot which will impress you (especially if you’re a avid fantasy reader). But it’s a good read nonetheless and if I come across the next book in the series, I would love to give it a read.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic.

Great book with a great reader. Thoroughly enjoyable. At first, I wondered if using different voices would annoy me, but ultimately it was a plus.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rob
  • Gifford, IL, United States
  • 02-29-16

A little confusing at first

As the first reviewer said it takes awhile to sort out the players and where they belong in the story. You get dropped right in the middle of there world and it is confusing until you catch on to what is what and who is who. Worth working for so keep listening.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story

Any additional comments?

I had been hearing good things about this series for a while and really wanting to read it. So instead of patiently waiting till it was on top of my "to be read' pile I pushed the pile over and grabbed it. So glad I did But now I will be even further behind on my stack as ill push everything else out of the way Again when the next book gets here. For a Novel as broad of scope as this it took me a remarkably short amount of time to understand the world building, but at the same time it was not generic fantasy tropes at all. and that is something to be treasured.
Good dialog and pacing of the story was just about perfect. Over all I highly recommend this!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

good, and we'll written

good story made better by a great narrator. it was hard to understand the dynamics of the world and its politics since I did not have a map making it hard to run to. my only criticisms are the magic system and the constant use of the word score. Just say 20! the magic system was vague with no explanation between the types and differences, though I am sure there is some. maybe in later books, which I will certainly listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Likely a good read for some, just not my cup of tea

I wanted to like this book more than I did. Most of the characters had far too much ego & weren’t very likable I was hard pressed to find a character or two that I could call a hero. However, their were two that fit the bill later in the story. The story itself was very dark & descriptions of fight scenes were too gory for my taste. The plot of the story was ok ,but predictable. Some characters were often described as having very strong powers, but I was not convinced by their powers until the last quarter of the book. The narration by Oliver Wyman was very good & he helped to keep me interested in the story. I would still recommend the book to those who like dark stories & graphic violence, because the book was very successful on that score; it just isn’t my personal preference.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A fantastic listen.

The narrator did a great job, story and characters were very compellingly and can only hope the series continues to be as good. Only negative was how the closing of the storylines seemed slightly rushed.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Story!

I already owned the book so the story was already familiar. Its easier to follow reading it if its your initial read (print copy has character lists, maps etc.). The narrator was o.k, not my favorite, but I've heard worse. The story was 5 stars, narrator three, thus a 4 star production.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Graeme from Preston
  • 10-10-15

Complex but could be more original

The story is very well written and having four story streams coming together is very complex. On audiobook this many streams makes it difficult to engage with the characters as each stream has a number of characters to keep track of. However after half way the story begins to meld together. The journeys are adventurous but lack an originality some other writers seem to offer (Abercrombie and Martin say) also seeding contemporary cliches jolts the reader out of the plot. Again, others make their own cliches up...? However as a debut novel this part of a series has a lot to commend it. My main suggestion to the author is to make the next more original than the past masters of the genre.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful