Tuesday 27 January 2015

Review ~ Eclipse by Dirk Strasser.

Title: Eclipse (Ascension #3).
Author: Dirk Strasser.
Genre: Fantasy.
Publication Date: November 1, 2013.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Can you see the story breathing?

What happens if the days keep getting shorter?
And shorter?
Until there is an eternal night?

What happens as the darkness grows?
And the creatures of dusk take control of the Mountain?
And the quest for the third Book is the only hope?

The Mountain is in its death throes as the Nazir send their wraiths to finish what the dusk-rats and grale had begun. Soon there will be no daylight to protect the Maelir and Faemir, and with each twilight there are fewer places to hide. Will the Mountain finally collapse under its own instability or will Atreu and Verlinden’s descent find the words of salvation in the Lost Book of Ascension?

Chapter Sixteen

The wind hit him like a wave of raw fear. Before him stood a pale man with shredded clothes flailing wildly behind him. The left side of his face had been clawed away. ‘Help me,’ the man cried in a voice that no human lungs could produce.

As the man reached out for him with knotted fingers, the shrieking filled Atreu’s head and he froze, unable to move even the smallest muscle. He felt himself being pulled back into the cabin, and before he knew it, he was lying on the floorboards and Verlinden had closed and bolted the cabin door again.

‘Did you see him?’ cried Atreu.

‘You’re still trying to tell me Riell was out there?’

‘No, the man with half a face.’

‘I saw nothing, Atreu. There was no one there.’

Atreu started trembling uncontrollably.

Verlinden led him back to the bunk and pulled the blanket over them.

Atreu immediately felt the pain in his head ease. ‘You didn’t see anyone, Verlinden?’


‘Then I am going mad.’

‘You can’t be if you think you are – hold on to that.’

Slowly, Atreu’s tremors subsided. ‘I’m sorry, Verlinden. How could I have endangered you like that?’

‘Don’t concern yourself, Atreu. Let’s just see if we can survive this.’

Atreu fought the painful shriek still keening inside his head. He closed his eyes and felt Verlinden pulling him closer so that her face touched his. He reached up to stroke her other cheek. With a shock he realised it had the pits and troughs of a furrowed field. He screamed and jumped back to see he had been embracing the half-faced man. He scrambled to the bunk on the other side of the cabin and felt someone jump on top of him with a blanket, pinning him to the bunk.

‘Atreu, stay calm. Just stay under the blanket.’ Verlinden’s voice cut through the maddening shriek.

Atreu’s breaths gradually eased. ‘Did you see him?’

‘No, there is no one here but the two of us.’

‘Can I see your face?’

‘Please, Atreu, I don’t want to lose you.’

Atreu tried to shake her off, but couldn’t. ‘I need to see your face.’

‘All right, Atreu. I have a blanket over me as well, so I’ll have to lift it off.

Let’s do this quickly.’

Atreu felt the weight shift from him, and he raised a corner of his blanket.

Verlinden’s eyes were wild and her expression grim, but it was her. As the shriek inside him started to grow again he pulled the blanket back over his head.

‘Verlinden, please keep talking to me. It helps,’ he said, taking comfort from the weight of her body on his.

There was no response.

‘Verlinden, did you hear me?’

Nothing – except she seemed to shift subtly.

‘Please …’ his plea trailed away as a chill shuddered through him.

When Verlinden finally spoke, he lost consciousness before she finished the last word.

‘Atreu, there’s someone on top of me.’

Eclipse is the third and final book in a fantasy trilogy which got much better as it went on. Equinox improved on a good first book but Eclipse provided an even more satisfying instalment to a creative, epic journey. The narrative in Eclipse has come full circle from where it began in Zenith, and the development of the main character Atreu is strong and plain to see. No longer is he naïve or lacking in knowledge. He’s braver and wiser and as he’s set to culminate his journey by travelling down the Mountain, he’s also ready to confront his biggest challenge yet. I finally began to believe in Atreu’s character and that made me connect with Eclipse a lot more than I had anticipated. This was an impressive way to end the series.

I’m repeating myself a bit here from my reviews of the first and second book, but the level of detail the author uses in his world building is so enthralling. He really knows how to bring life to a fictional setting and so when Atreu and Verlinden are battling to save the Mountain, I can picture every vivid little element of their surroundings and what they’re facing. Eclipse really allows you to sit back and think and imagine this fantasy world until it feels almost real. It doesn’t seem to be hit with some of the weaknesses common in end-of-the-series books, where you sometimes have to suspend belief a little just to accept the way things turn out. The writing here feels accomplished, as the author combines his creativity with some believable character development and a strong story, but with that added something special to make this book feel like a ‘proper’ fantasy novel, a really, really good one.

What I loved about Eclipse was that nothing was left forgotten and everything was combined and drawn out to make the trilogy feel complete, to make me appreciate every moment in each of the three books and how they all merged together to build a solid and entrancing finale. The role of Atreu working his way down the Mountain rather than up it, like in Zenith, was clever and delivered in a fascinating, tense manner. The world as it is desired was in his hands and the question of whether he could succeed in saving it was a wonderful motivator to keep me reading, to discover if Dirk Strasser had any more tricks up his sleeve and if he could make this ending top the rest. Strasser worked his magic and I was left one happy reader indeed, after the absorbing series finished on a high.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Dirk Strasser has won multiple Australian Publisher Association Awards and a Ditmar for Best Professional Achievement. His short story, “The Doppelgänger Effect”, appeared in the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology, Dreaming Down Under. His fiction has been translated into a number of languages. His acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Books of Ascension – Zenith, Equinox and Eclipse – has been published in English (Pan Macmillan / Momentum) and German (Heyne). A collection of his short stories, Stories of the Sand, will be published in November. His most recent short story publications have been “The Mandelbrot Bet” in the Tor anthology Carbide Tipped Pens, “At Dawn’s Speed” in Dimension6 #2, and “2084” in the international anthology The World to Come. He founded the Aurealis Awards and has co-published and co-edited Aurealis magazine over 20 years.

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  1. Anonymous27/1/15 11:22

    Thank you for taking part Sophie and for the fantastic review! Was pleased to have you on board for all of these tours as your reviews prove to be invaluable :) Thank you! Jenny xo

    1. Aw, thank you Jenny! I've loved being a part of all three tours :) xx

  2. What a lovely thing to say Jenny. I agree a great review.


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