We continue reviewing the SPFBO 6 Finalists. Our next one up is The Fall of Erlon by Robert H. Fleming, chosen by The Critiquing Chemist team. I’m sitting this one out, due to not being able to read much these days. Thankfully, I have an awesome team to cover my ass. So, there will be only three scores for this title.
|Series: The Falling Empires Saga #1||Genre: Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: September 30th, 2019||Publisher: self-published|
As empires burn, heroes must rise.
Elisa Lannes was once heiress to the mighty Erlonian Empire. But when her mother abandons the empire and her emperor father is defeated on the battlefield and sent into exile, the world she would rule collapses around her. As enemies converge on the capital, Elisa must join with the last of the empire’s loyal soldiers to escape the evil that hunts her and her family.
With the help of her father’s generals, can Elisa find the strength to fight for her people? Or will a twist in the tide of the empire’s last war awaken an evil far greater than the enemy’s blade?
The Fall of Erlon is the first in the new military fantasy series from author Robert H. Fleming. If you like deep fantasy worlds filled with colorful characters and massive battles, the gods and generals of the Falling Empires Saga is for you.
Jen – 6.5/10
I was really looking forward to The Fall of Erlon because I love military fantasy but this ended up being a mixed-bag for me. I enjoyed parts of it and other parts I wished for more depth.
Lannes – The imprisoned emperor.
I wondered about Lannes a lot as the story progressed. I wanted more of him and King Nelson (he was there to learn and take record of his rise and fall from power). The beginning meeting had me so interested and I was surprised to find Lannes wasn’t in the book much, but his presence was definitely felt throughout.
(I did have to chuckle because those first meetings reminded me so much of those interviews they have with serial killer s- like Mindhunters)
Elisa – She was my favourite part of the book. I couldn’t wait to get back to her.
She had all the questions around her that kept me interested and wanting to read – why do they want her? Why is she so important? Is it just to be political prisoner, or is there something more to it? to her? And so on.
Her character felt more rounded too.
Her thoughts didn’t stall on just a certain characteristic like missing family, etc. like some of the lesser characters did, but I also felt there could have been more substance or balance to them.
I did think Elisa was showcased well in ways that let us know she had the fortitude to eventually be someone who could lead. She could learn from others and used her knowledge and strengths where she was helpful (like supplying meat for the farm, medical aid for the soldiers etc.). In other words, she may be a princess, but she is capable of getting her hands dirty and had that willingness to go that extra-mile and ride into a war. She was a huge highlight for me in the story.
Lauriston and comp. – Loved these sections for the brotherhood and comradery feel, especially after Mon and Elisa join the group.
Andrei – Enjoyed the hunter/prey thing. I liked his POV for keeping that tension up as they closed-in on Mon and Elisa – this chase was my favourite part of the book.
The rest of the POVs – Well…I think they muddied the water a little, slowing things down for me because I wasn’t as interested in their sections and they started feeling similar to one another.
Except for Pitt, who at first, I didn’t have much of an opinion of but after that turn, and his struggles, I really wanted him to make it out. I think the tenseness and the emotions during these scenes really shone through, contributing to me wanting him to survive.
I enjoyed the battles. I love flintlock because it feels orderly and chaotic all at once, and the delay in the time it takes to reload adds so much tension to the scenes. That said, I think the scenes with the chase with Mon and Elisa and with Pitt were even better. The build, pacing, tension, and everything was ratcheted right up to the max by the time they had their confrontation. I was flipping pages like mad.
I found there was a lot of repetition (the hawk would be returning to air soon, Pitt’s family needing him to succeed because he was the only one who wasn’t sea captain, the spoiled prince and his thoughts about the summit, etc) that could have been tidied up because they began to feel like page-filler.
All in all, a good story, with some stand-out moments.
I got a little hung-up on that deer and the dragging it back to the farm, but our deer are big and I kind of forgot about those teeny deer other places have. I did question, why she didn’t dress-it-out in the field and knock a few pounds off that dragging weight though…
Nick – 6/10
The Fall of Erlon was an entertaining fantasy story for me that was a nice quick read and provided quite a few moments of the fantastical. The setting depicts a sort of flintlock society, very reminiscent of Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy. The main character Elisa is thrust into an important role in saving the people of her kingdom as forces mount against her attempt to do so.
This is also a pretty straightforward fantasy story that had some unique elements but also aspects that I have seen done before. The magic is present but not overly so and I would say this is more court-intrigue and military fantasy than one of a sword and sorcery persuasion. The action is pretty intense at times and the battle scenes are really engaging.
The one thing that took away from some of my enjoyment was that I felt like the characters and the plot were a bit standard and predictable at times. I felt like I was reading a few other stories that are similar in theme to this one at times. That being said, I did enjoy much of the book and Elisa is a character who emits a lot of inner strength and determination against growing odds.
The world building was well done and a real strength of The Fall of Erlon. All in all I liked it, just didn’t love it. But there are enough fascinating breadcrumbs here to make me want to seek out more of Robert Fleming’s books in the future. A good fantasy story that should appeal to many readers and a decent intro to the genre for any first-time fantasy reader.
Peter – 5.5/10
The Fall of Erlon was an anticipated read for me in the SPFBO final, I had heard some good things about it and was looking forward to the flintlock fantasy style book.
It certainly draws from the Napoleonic era and uses secondary creation well, the world is quite well built and I enjoyed the parallels to be found in history. This was the part of the book I enjoyed and I do tip my hat to Robert for his well built world. The characters were also interesting, we follow quite a few. Elisa and Prince Rapp are the major POVs with six or seven supporting POVs and this book really didn’t work for me, the characters all in their own heads just felt disengaging. It’s a shame because I saw real potential with this as a book, the characters were just not varied enough and felt very flat and I have said elsewhere that characters are a key part of a book for me.
That being said the magic was interesting, it’s a low magic system with characters having a spirit animal and companion which was cool and I enjoyed reading about how this developed. It did develop as the book progresses and this was definitely a plus for me while reading.
|Jen: 6.5||Nick: 6||Peter: 5.5||Timy: X|
Our overall rating for The Fall or Erlon: 6/10
For more SPFBO content, please visit my SPFBO 6 Finals page!