The Great Restoration by William Ray

The Great Restoration by William Ray

Series: Tales of the Verin Empire #2Genre: fantasy
Date of Publishing: September 28th 2017Publisher: Self-Published


Quote of the Book

“Shadows moved. Nothing close enough to make out in the dim light of his broken lantern, but just beyond the point he could see, the darkness took on strange, shifting patterns and extended all around them in an unsettling wall of sinuous motion.

Light flickered again above the moving shadows but drawing lower, nearer, and slowly widening. It became a dull orange glow sketching a jagged row of shadowy knives. There was a deep rumbling, and just above that light, he could see a yellow glimmer reflecting the light of his lamp. As it neared, it resolved into a great yellow eye.

That terrible eye was larger than a dinner plate, and once Gus recognized its yellow shimmer as an eye, the jagged shadows below it became teeth, and the fire behind them a curious horror he had no name for.”


The Great Restoration 2

The Wardens have returned.

Traitors to humanity, the Wardens were an ancient order of men and women seeking to once more enslave their own people to the Elves. With the rise of rifle and iron rail, Elves were finally driven from the world, but in secret enclaves, the Wardens speak of the Great Restoration, which will bring their masters back into power…

Nearly a decade after fighting the war in Gedlund, Gus Baston has found work as a private investigator in the Verin Empire’s crime-infested capitol. He makes his living at the edges of society, friend to neither police nor criminal classes, and when the Wardens suddenly emerge from obscurity to kidnap a prominent engineer, Gus must rescue him or risk being blamed for the crime himself.

But why would Elves want an engineer? And why have the Wardens suddenly shown themselves after forty years in hiding?

Drawing inspiration from Lord of the Rings, Sherlock Holmes and our own late 19th century, The Great Restoration continues William Ray’s bold, critically acclaimed reinvention of classic fantasy in a world of memorable characters and unique perspectives. 

Disclaimer/Personal Note

Review request. Thank you William Ray for the copy in exchange for a review.

Song of the Book

Blue on Black by Five Finger Death Punch

Honestly the song choice for this has held me up for weeks. I could not find anything appropriate and I happen to have this come up on my playlist one day.

I have been looking for an excuse to use this song ever since I heard the cover of Kenny Wayne Shepherd‘s Blue on Black by Five Finger Death Punch, so here it is, a bit of grasp but it works if you think of it in context of the friends Gus lost during his time serving in the war.


 A long time ago in a fun thread on reddit, the author, William Ray, plugged this as a Scooby Doo mystery in a fantasy setting- immediately grabbing my interest. Two plus years later (I know, I know) when the author offered The Great Restoration and Gedlund, for a review request, I jumped on the opportunity to have a reason to get to read this series sooner than my TBR pile was allowing.

The Great Restoration is the second book in this series of Tales of Verin and it couldn’t be any more different in style. Though they share a common world, Gedlund, was an atmospheric military fantasy on a grand scale; the battles were massive. When I think about that book, I can’t help but hear the marching tempo in my head or imagine that enormous lightning golem, or feel the creepiness of some of the settings.

The Great Restoration has a more personal approach with its narrower focus (and timeframe) Gus’s investigation into a kidnapping takes place in just two cities; the capital city of Gemmen, and in Khanom – once a great city of the elves, where a lot of their culture still stands abandoned after their disappearance.

While I loved Gedlund for its military action and the battles, I thought The Great Restoration – though maybe a bit slower in pace, was a better story all around. It’s tighter, the characters more balanced (no surprise POV midway through) and the plot and mystery are smartly done. The clues are all there, carefully laid out so the pieces fall into place as we learn more about the project that the kidnapped architect had been working on, and the people around him that have a stake in its success or failure.

The world building is where this story excels. The city and the running of it is as much a character as Gus, Emily, and Dorna were. I liked how the world, the city and her histories were brought alive in the touches of architecture and through the newspaper columns, and advertising.

I noted this in Gedlund, but Ray, has a talent for including little details on the inner workings of… well, things. In Gedlund it was the military, in The Great Restoration it’s the cities – everything from sewers, taxis, class division in the urban landscape, theatre and petty crime. So many touches of life that add realism, interest and flavour to the story. 


Gus is a little more beat down in this book. The war has changed him and he fits the “noir detective” very well. Even though I liked him a lot better in this story than I did Gedlund, it was nice to have Emily (his secretary) as a counterpoint to him because let’s face it, he is a dour feeling man these days and the third POV, Dorna (who gives us the other side of the coin and completes the full picture of everything that is happening) is just a small step away from being a fanatic and not a POV I want to be in for much more than we were here.

 I really liked Emily, whose past and viewpoint worked especially well to give access to information that wouldn’t have come easily or naturally to Gus, so the clues she supplies to the trail of information never have a grasping feel to the way they’re acquired. I also liked that Gus and Emily, reference each other in their thoughts a lot, making them feel like part of a team or at least friends.


In closing and the answer to the big question – is this Scooby Doo? Well, kind of, but, not really. Yes, if Fred was an alcoholic war hero, suffering from PTSD and a serious lack of sleep, and Daphne, the secretary whose past job was more of the flat on your back kind, than the typing and shorthand kind. And yes, also because this definitely has a bit of that crawling around investigating creepy places (something Ray is really good at, is bringing that kind of atmosphere to life) and yes if the “ghost” is maybe or maybe not, what they seem but money is definitely the root of all evil. But without Shaggy and Scooby Doo bumbling through and getting in trouble (though Gus certainly finds his fair share) this feels a little more Sherlock/ noirish than Scooby, and I am ok with that because this was a great story.

Usually I prefer detective stories where I don’t know who the culprit is, or the reason they did it – the fun is uncovering the clues while investigating. But, in this, we know who the kidnapper is and we even know why they were kidnapped but things aren’t adding up and those things are what keep you turning the pages to see how it all fits.

Other notes:

I loved the scene with the vampire coming out of the box, it reminded me a lot of the old Boris Karloff movies.

Our Judgement

They Shall Be Remembered - 4.5 Crowns