For the third book of his Song of the Ancestors series, John Grover picks up the threads of the first two tales, but introduces a new threat. Having recovered from the internal strife and civil wars of the last volume, the races of Orum must band together in Ballad of the Fallen to resist the advance of a chilling new foe.
And when I saw "the races of Orum" I mean all the races of Orum - Amazons, Elves, Fairies, and even the Lizard Men.
No longer just undead minions of The Spider Queen, the Necromantic Clans have united under one merciless leader to tear apart the veil between worlds. All they need to enact their terrible scheme is the blood of a child, one unique across the face of Orum . . . the 'miracle' offspring of the forbidden union between Amazon and Human. It's always a risk to build a story around the protection of a child, around the power of parenthood, but here it works. With not just one, but two children coming under shadow from the Clans, he has a lot of potential to exploit.
While I felt the second volume faltered a bit, this one definitely marks a return to form. The pacing is better, the danger feels authentic, and the sense of palatable evil - so crucial to any fantasy saga - is definitely there. Most importantly of all, perhaps, is the fact that his characters are really at risk this time around - so much so, in fact, that not everyone will survive to make it through to the next instalment. I still would love to see Grover expand upon his stories to provide a little more depth or back story, but he does a superb job within the structure of a short novella.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins