Voice of War jumped to the top of my TBR when the author, Zack Argyle started following my blog and I was made aware that his debut novel was a finalist for the SPFBO awards hosted by Mark Lawrence. My expectations for this novel were very high and I must say that the accolades for Voice of War are well warranted and Zack Argyle knows how to right a damn good story. Voice of War is a novel about the haves and the have nots as they struggle to gain the upper hand in a terrible struggle that will lead to war. Also, at the forefront is the magic system and while reading Voice of War, I was reminded of the magic systems used by two other best selling authors and Zack Argyle combines them in a interesting way that was a blast to read. More on that later, but first I want to talk about the characters.
Chrys Valerian is one of three generals of Alchea and his wife is on bed rest waiting for the birth of his first child. Chrys is tasked with investigating and ultimately crippling the group known as the Bloodthieves as they have been kidnapping threadweavers–those able to see and manipulate threadlight. I will touch more on the magic system in a later chapter, but the world this book takes place in is divided into two groups of people: Those who can control threadlight, depicted by blue or green eyes and those who can’t, depicted by brown eyes and known as achromatic. Chrys discovers that the Bloodthieves are stealing the blood from threadweavers and selling them on the black market to achromic citizens. Once ingested, the consumer will gain threadweaving abilities on a short term basis creating an army that cannot be stopped. Chrys must put an end to this before it is too late. The second POV we follow is Laurel, 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. She has information vital to the survival of Fairenwild and must escape if her people are to survive this upcoming war.
Now lets discuss the magic system. A few days after a child is born, it is presented to the church to perform a ritual to determine if the child is a threadweavers or not. Each couple is allowed to keep two children regardless of the outcome of the ritual, but if they have a third and the child is achromic, the church blinds the child and it becomes a member of the church forever. The couple gets to keep the child if it is threadweaver. This type of dictator rule reminds me of Communist China when they limited the number of children a couple can have based on the sex of the children. If a child is a threadweaver it can control threadlight in one of two ways, by pushing if you have blue eyes or pulling if you have green eyes. Everything in the world is made up of threadlight and it is best to think of it as energy. So anything and everything can be manipulated by a threadweaver that already exists in the world. The ability to push and pull as a type of magic reminded me of Mistborn where Vin has the ability to push and pull certain types of metal. This magic system also reminded me of Brent Weeks Lightbringer series when the magical abilities are determined by what color eyes the user has. As Chrys discovers more about the Bloodthieves, a dark being is pushing forward from the deepest constructs of his mind and it wants to cause destruction to all in its path. It will take all of Chrys might to keep this evil presence at bay even when all hope has gone out.
Zack Argyle’s prose and writing style are very reader friendly and you will have no issues being absorbed into this world from the first chapter. At the same time, I came to appreciate the level of creativity and ingenuity the author poured into this story and it pays off in dividends the further you progress in the story. I will say that Voice of War is the story of two half’s in more ways than one. The first half of the story is very engaging and action packed, while the second half we see a shirt in tone and pacing. This shift didn’t bother me at all because I felt that the story and pacing needed to take a deep breath, but I can tell that this will bother some readers. Two half’s can also be applied to the threadweavers as for every push there is a pull. When Chrys discovers the leader of the Bloodthieves is a threadweaver, me moves to investigate, but what he discovers will shock him and the would to his core. The Bloodthief leader doesn’t have eyes of blue or green, but of yellow and the leader has the power to “create” threadweaves from nothing! Zack Argyle does show us however, if there is a power to create then a power to destroy may exist as well!
If you couldn’t tell already from my rambling on, this was a smashing good book with the stakes being raised for the release of book two. Self-published authors are the backbone of the publishing industry and it makes me happy to see authors fine work being put on display for the world to see. Add Voice of War to your TBR and let the magic take hold of you, but beware it may never let go!