Review: IMPERIAL TOWERS (Book of Never #5), by Ashley Capes

33302288I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

With this fifth novella (and one that is quite close to book length at that), Never’s journey seems to have reached its completion: I use the word ‘seems’ because there are a few open threads that imply the possibility of future developments, and besides the GoodReads page for this series indicates that six books are planned, but as far as Never’s search for his past and his heritage is concerned, Imperial Towers finally gives the reader a number of long-awaited answers.

Starting right after the momentous ending of the previous book, The Peaks of Autumn, this new installment in the story sees Never and friends in a difficult situation, with Luis gravely wounded and people hunting them through a landscape that’s becoming more dangerous with every passing day, since war has explosively broken out and everyone seems bent on fighting everyone else.  And Snow, Never’s estranged brother, looks like the lynchpin of it all…

From the very beginning of this serialized story, it was clear that Never was not an ordinary man: his peculiar ability to use his own blood as a weapon and the lack of information about his past both pointed toward a mysterious origin, so that as his journey of discovery progressed and the clues piled up (albeit in frustratingly small increments…) it became clear he descended from the fabled, half-forgotten Amouni, a more advanced race of beings possessed of extraordinary powers and superior knowledge.   Here, all the accumulated information finally coalesces into a clearer picture, as Snow’s plans come into focus and Never’s determination to stop his brother hardens into the resolve to do so no matter what.

The narrative core of Imperial Towers revolves around Never’s contrasting needs: on one side he knows he must prevent Snow from fulfilling his designs, because he understands the inherent dangers of absolute power and the blindness to human suffering that trails behind it; on the other he wants to recapture the bond that tied the two brothers in the past, the sense of family they shared and that was lost in the intervening years.  Never wants his brother back, he wants

the boy who had always tried to take the first blow whenever a villager threw a stone, the boy who had been the one to pull Never back to his feet, the boy who had been sure their curse did not have to damn them to a life of loneliness and hate

Unfortunately, this desire is at the root of Never’s ultimate weakness wherever Snow is concerned, and it allows Snow to coerce his brother into helping him, too often pulling him into his schemes against Never’s will with a cold ruthlessness that more than once made me wonder what had happened to the boy who used to be a protector and a shield.  And when the answer comes, it’s a very poignant one indeed.

The bright side of it all comes from the friends (the surrogate family) Never has gathered around himself: Luis, who has been his traveling companion from the very start; young Tsolde, even Elina – whose difficult position forces her to shift from ally to enemy and back to ally – and others.   For someone who has been forced by circumstances to live his life alone, Never makes friends quite easily thanks to his loyalty and capacity for self-sacrifice, both traits that belie his sometimes gruff and standoffish manners.  Now that part of the shadows hiding his true self have been lifted, it would be interesting to see what kind of man he might evolve into…

And speaking of revelations and discovered truths, I would like to close this review by showing how the covers for this story’s installments have slowly but surely evolved from the darkness of the first one to the light of the present book: a sort of visual clue to the expanding understanding of the readers as information piles up. Quite a nice touch, indeed!

My Rating:


 

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Posted on March 3, 2017, in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Christy Luis

    Wow, you’re right about the progression of light across the covers! Nice touch. And it’s good to hear that #5 divulges some answers- you’re reaping the rewards of keeping up with the series *fist pump* Thanks for highlighting this series. I’ll keep an eye out for your review of #6! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not read your review – I know you won’t have spoilers but I just want to be totally unaware when I continue with the series. Glad it ended well.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how you laid out the covers and showed their evolution. I remember the one for The Amber Isle quite vividly actually, but hadn’t even realized Imperial Towers was the same series simply because of the huge difference in tone!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That cover looks to be pulled strait from a Warhammer novel; muscular angel of doom!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The series really sounds fascinating, especially the past civilization and mystery elements. I have it on my t-b-r pile, but I really need to move it up the priority list. Love all the covers too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, when you lay it out like that I see exactly what you mean about the covers! What a cool easter egg for keen-eyed readers. These days I’m quite wary of series with more than three books, but the fact that these are novella length (mostly) gives me hope. They sounds so cool!

    Liked by 1 person

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