Ian Irvine – Well of Echoes

Potential spoilers (just to be safe!).

So I recently finished the last book in the Well of Echoes series by Ian Irvine. It began with Geomancer, then Tetrarch, then Alchymist and finally ended with Chimaera. I finished it literally minutes before I needed to leave the house to catch a flight “daahhn saaath” for my friend’s hen do, much to my delight because I only had a handful of pages left and it would have meant taking two books away with me which would have taken up valuable space in my only-hand-luggage but it would also have had to be done because I can’t travel without a book, it’s just not right! It didn’t come to that anyway, as I managed to get to the end before I had to go.

Anyway. The Well of Echoes is the second series in the Three Worlds cycle, sandwiched inbetween The View From the Mirror series and The Song of the Tears series. I vaguely knew this when I bought the first Well of Echoes, but I liked the sound of it enough to not be too worried about the fact I was effectively joining something partway through. As it turned out, you don’t need to have read The View from the Mirror to understand Well of Echoes; although there are a couple of recurring characters and there are some events from that previous series that are mentioned along the way, this didn’t make the story difficult to follow or anything.

And I did quite like the story. The world building was good, there were maps (which is always a win in my book!) and it was a decent plot in general. The problem was the characters. Tiaan, who was set up to be the main character in the first book, I liked. But then she seemed to be relegated to bit part in the middle books and wasn’t really focussed on, you didn’t get much from her point of view. It did come back to her in the last book, but by then some other characters had been established as main characters too so there wasn’t as much of her as I’d like.

Other characters like Nish. I didn’t like Nish. I thought he was a bit of a dick and didn’t really care for him. But when the focus moved away from Tiaan, it ended up on him, which didn’t do it for me.

The other main character was Irisis. I really didn’t like her in the beginning. She was made out to be an entitled bitch that only cared about herself and how she looked. I did grow to like her as her character developed, but she was still reduced to doing brave things because “she loved Nish so much and didn’t want to leave him behind”. Seriously. Maybe that’s true, but maybe we could give characters, especially female characters, a slightly less overused motivation than love for a man. What about the fact that over the course of the story, their little group of people had been through a lot and become really close-knit because of that? Or what about the fact that she became a lot less self-centred and realised that other things mattered? I’ve got nothing against a love story, but Nish did nothing in my opinion to deserve Irisis’s love; I really don’t know what she saw in him!

While I’m on the topic, I’m not sure I’m a fan of the treatment of women in general. We’re breeders, basically. All women have to “do their duty” and have children to make sure the population survives the war. Tiaan rebelled against this and being sent to the breeding factory (yes, the breeding factory) would be a fate worse than death for her. Granted, it’s not a major part of the story but it still irked me.

The lyrinx I found fascinating. They began as human, flesh-formed their own offspring in utero into these slightly fucked up creatures with wings and an armoured second skin so they could survive in the void, and ended up a warrior race with no culture and forgotten histories who had nothing to strive for but to win the war with the humans. This troubled them on an existential level and a few among them wanted to regain their humanity. I could have read a whole series about just them, to be honest.

All in all, the series as a whole was a decent enough read. It didn’t blow my mind, but it kept me entertained. I probably won’t re-read it though. The end also seriously set the scene for the next series in the cycle, but as it was advertised as “Nish’s story continues in the Song of the Tears” and I’ve made it pretty clear how I feel about Nish, I won’t be reading it any time soon!!



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