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REVIEW | The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

This has been one of the harder reviews I've had to write since I started blogging. I put The Unremembered down halfway through as I was having trouble staying focused. Usually when that happens it is before I'm over 300 pages in, but I was going through quite a bit at the time so I chalked it up to that. I did however come back to The Unremembered about a month later and fell right back into it and finished the book liking it well enough. But since then I've struggled with this review, rewriting it multiple times because as I turned to reflect I couldn't nail what I liked about it as much as what I felt I didn't. And this is the result.

The Unremembered is Peter Orullian's very Epic debut. It is Epic in nearly every way. In terms of characters/points of view, battles/skirmishes, plot evasiveness, big magic, along with the scope of the land and its associated cultures. There is also a dark god of a sort who is at the heart of the matter, but little seen. All in all The Unremembered is very reminiscent of Robert Jordan and Eddings so if that is your cup of tea then afternoon tea is ready for you. But if you're expecting much more beyond that than look elsewhere as only a few things differentiate it from its forebears.

The Unremembered starts with a prologue that while straight forward enough still leaves so much, perhaps too much, to the imagination involving a race of god like beings responsible for the creation of the world and many others. There is a casting out of one of the gods who is apparently behind all the evil of the world.  We are then flung thousands of years in the future on the world where evil is spreading in a small village where teenage friends Tahn, Sutter, and Wendra are somehow at the crux of some evil plot.

The dense story does take awhile to grab hold as things are left sketchy for the main characters as they are dragged around. One thing that tends to grate on me in Epic Fantasy is the reliance on keeping the main character out of the loop following around people blindly, which is the case here. The leads are pushed around and bloodied without so much as a word of why for hundreds of pages from their all-knowing wizard leader.

Sometimes I was completely enveloped in the rich and lush world and then I'd get all annoyed because characters kept getting side tracked again and again, which doesn't do much for the core story. Too many flights, too many partings, and predictable meetings. The magic and story are complex and the use of music as magic was interesting, but not well enough explained to fully grasp. Apparently the next volume will go further into it.

The Unremembered does shows promise for what could be a remarkable world and cast, but it isn't there yet and I'm not sure Orullian's goal with the story would get it there. The story seems enmeshed in tropes that it loses itself in. The best part of the novel is the relationships, especially between Tahn and Sutter which is what kept me coming back for more. I give The Unremembered 5 out of 10 hats, but the 14 year-old in me would probably give it an 8 if I hadn't read some Jordan prior. I think I'm just a different reader now and expect different things out of my Fantasy then I did even 5 years ago.

If you are a fan of 80's and 90's Epic Fantasy and still savor for more than The Unremembered is for you. If you're looking for more Sanderson, Abercrombie, or Lynch type Fantasy than try elsewhere.

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Man, I was so looking forward to this one, but it sounds disappointing. Maybe I should just re-read The Great Hunt...

Ben Godby said...

The cover art and the title make this sound awesome, but, alas. Gone are the days when I had the time to while away reading a book that was really just preparation for another six-hundred page tome...

Stefan Fergus said...

I've had "Unremembered" on my shelf for a while, but I've seen quite a few disappointed reviews. Never read any Jordan or others of his ilk, so maybe I won't have too much problem with it.

Mad Hatter Review said...

The cover is absolutely perfect and probably my favorite of the year.

@Stefan 0 If you haven't read much Jordan than you may like this quite a bit. And don't get me wrong there are probably a lot of Jordan fans who would eat this us as well.

tomlloyd said...

Seems to be another victim of publishers hype there - the more something gets built up the more it has to be REALLY original not to get a backlash from readers and reviewers. I think the Elspeth Cooper book looks to have had the same problem.

Stefan Fergus said...

I agree with @TomLloyd - Songs of the Earth, while not perfect, does seem to have received quite the drubbing by reviewers. Hype is a dangerous thing, it's true.

Mad Hatter Review said...

Hype is something I've tried to be more wary of. I genuinely didn't go into The Unremembered expecting the best book of the year, but it has generally been the books that don't get hyped the most I end up liking the best. A couple like that this year are God's War, The Desert of Souls, or even Among Thieves. The last of which you barely heard a whisper about until it was released besides people deriding the cover. All great debuts.

But than again I quite enjoyed Robopocalypse, which certainly falls in the hype category.

Anonymous said...

great review except. nitpick. Then. Then. Then. Then. When you decide you want to use than use then instead and then you are more likely than not to not mix them up. I gave up after the third wrong than. it was just jarring.

Mad Hatter Review said...

Should be fixed now. I also have a problem with than and then even though I know which I should be using if asked. There is a reason I don't get paid for writing these reviews and this is despite the fact I do have someone give them a read before I go posting.

Anonymous said...

ha, ha. yeah, I was mostly just joking. I actually like the reviews it was just that out of 5 thans they were all thens in actuality. Most people that can't tell use them interchangably but it was all than here.
Anyways, all in fun. I like bloggers that don't get mad when somebody tells them something so totally irrelevant and off the wall and just say thanks. :)
Hope you keep up the good work. Seems you'll get the then/than sooner than later, but then again, I could be wrong. LOL. Thanks.

RobB said...

Very fair review and one that was in line with my thoughts. I wanted to like this book more than I did - I interviewed Peter for SFFWorld, I like the guy quite a bit but the book as a bit of a let down.