Now Reading: ‘Realm Breaker’: A Review of Victoria Aveyard’s New, Exhilarating Fantasy Book

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‘Realm Breaker’: A Review of Victoria Aveyard’s New, Exhilarating Fantasy Book

April 20, 20217 min read

Editor’s Note: I received a free copy of this book an exchange for a fair, honest review.

After taking the world by a storm with the Red Queen series, Victoria Aveyard has returned to grant us another fantasy series, promising us another addictive read. Realm Breaker, the pilot of her next fantasy series, is a whopping six-hundred-page book detailing Corayne an-Amarat’s journey to — you guessed it — save the world. Despite the extraordinary burden resting on her shoulders, she’s joined by several other reprobates who have, without rhyme or reason, found themselves trekking alongside her on the savior quest.

Frankly, my first impressions leveled Realm Breaker at a wavering three-star rating. Almost immediately starting the book, you are plunged in medias res into a prologue scene that not only sets the foundation for the rest of the book, but also introduces two major characters, mentions crucial details of Allward, and explains the very villains they are all fighting against. I felt as thought I was being assailed by information on all sides, trying to field the characters’ descriptions while also attempting to decipher their exact purpose within the scene.

Courtesy of Sameer Mitha

Such is often the case when it comes to fantasy — these are completely different worlds you must render with, after all: different systems of governance, different magical systems, different cultures, and even different species. Add on a large, dynamic cast, and you face an even heftier learning curve. Still, I grappled to find my footing at first, and the uncertainty managed to pull me out somewhat.

Thankfully, the tides changed rather quickly. Soon, I could confidently come across a word and recognize its meaning, rather than stumbling. Rather than amorphous and scattered, the cast began to knit together and refine, the characters becoming distinguishable in my mind. And the story itself unfurled into the sensory experience I crave while reading fantasy, at times ruthless, at times beautiful. The ending was a series of sucker-punches to my gut, overflowing with engaging, exciting action that completely demolished my stern reading limits.

Judging by the ramping up of action towards the book’s closing, the main objective of Realm Breaker is probably to prime the reader for the overall arc of the series. The pace of the story quickened slowly overtime, going from a stroll to large strides, and then, near the end, accelerating to a furious gallop. Much of the story, though deceptively action-packed, didn’t truly accomplish much in defeating the antagonist; the characters spent the vast majority just getting together and traveling to different locations — though I certainly didn’t mind.

In fact, I grew to adore the motley cadre of friends-who-won’t-admit-they’re-friends, and it was a hard-hitting, insistent affection that didn’t alert me to its presence until I finished reading. For those who love the Found Family trope, like I do, Realm Breaker will certainly satisfy your taste for it. It was heavily reminiscent of the beloved Six of Crows trilogy, and I see great potential for the relationships between them to strengthen into those kinds of bonds. From the bickering, to the needling, to the barely suppressed laughter, to the frantic terror for each other’s sake when their lives were in danger, I luxuriated in each moment.

Other positives include Aveyard’s typical streak of romance. Those who’ve read Red Queen understand her nail-biting, painfully subtle ways of incorporating romance, and she kept with it in Realm Breaker. Never mind any actual declarations of love, I devoured each time they forced their gazes away from that one strand of hair, thrashed by a salty gale. Or that brush of a hand, by accident or by choice?

I also appreciated the epic nature of their journey, akin to some sort of odyssey. Ranging from rank and lawless, to paradisiacal and idyllic, Aveyard thoroughly fleshed out the cultural topography of Allward. With COVID-19 preventing me from traveling anywhere, Realm Breaker was the next best thing. And, of course, Aveyard’s writing was clean-cut, precise, and immersive as always — her concise prose was practically made for action scenes, and I always enjoyed reading them.

Overall, I’d rate Realm Breaker at a comfortable 4-4.5 stars. Depending on how the next book goes, the series might very well reach five-star status. The “official” genre is YA, but I’d wager it is more borderline Adult/New Adult, since there is definitely profanity and the story contained a very mature, self-aware tone. I personally didn’t mind the vulgarity and violence at all. It’s up to personal preference, but I find that fantasy with rougher edges lends to a more authentic, intense story. The YA genre itself is quite elastic, but that’s another topic entirely.

Having a comeback after the raging success of Red Queen must have been a daunting mountain to scale for Victoria Aveyard. But I think, with Realm Breaker, she might have made it to the summit. Kudos to her.

Featured Photo Courtesy of Epic Reads

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Phyllis Feng

Phyllis Feng is an Ohio-based writer who loves venturing into a diverse array of topics, from literature and music to mental health. She always seeks to emphasize honesty and empathy in her work. In her free time, you'll usually find her with a book and a mug of tea in her hands.

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