Years ago when I came to my senses and got back into reading full-time, Victoria Aveyard was one of the first authors that ensnared me. I had a mixed experience with her first series, Red Queen, but I was curious to try out Aveyard’s newest story Realm Breaker. What I encountered was an incredible adventure with a charming cast of characters that I will dutifully be following to the sequel.
A group of knights readies themselves to confront a sword thief. But no armor or weapon could have prepared them for the breaking of the world. Someone with the magical Spindleblood of Old Cor has come into possession of a Spindleblade and is using the powerful weapon to open doorways to monstrous realms. The chaos begins to spill into the Ward, and the only way to stop the obliteration of the land is to get the blade’s twin to another Cor ancestor, preferably one with better intentions. Not all will answer the call to save the realm, but the few who do will take up the mantle and fight to save their home against all odds.
One element I struggled with in Aveyard’s original Red Queen series was the POVs. The POVs increase from one to several characters after book two, and there were some weird choices in terms of who got the spotlight and how they contributed to the story. What was one of Red Queen’s biggest weaknesses becomes Aveyard’s greatest strength in Realm Breaker. Aveyard starts with an ensemble right off the bat featuring six different characters of varying ages and backgrounds. To avoid spoilers as to who joins the adventure, I’ll keep their identities hidden, but the important thing to know is that this full cast is brilliant. With each character the world builds and the stakes get higher. Everyone is serving a different master whether it’s a literal person, grief, or destiny itself. Each POV had my undivided attention, my only complaint is that some became more scarce as the story goes on.
This may be a strange statement, but my favorite part about this book is how little it focuses on “the chosen one.” This particular character doesn’t even have a strong POV share. The chosen one appears minor in comparison to the other POVs and I ate it up. As important as they are to the realm, Aveyard refuses to showcase the story only through their eyes. Instead of following the typical journey of a teenager finding their footing while chasing an important destiny, Aveyard lets us shoulder the burden of this task with the adults in the room. I love how exhausted these older characters were trying to keep this one special person alive. Yeah, we need the chosen one to save the world and all that, but what if that person was incredibly useless? Literally, the only way this character has a chance to fulfill their destiny is because of the amazingly talented people surrounding them and that is where Aveyard lets the bulk of her story thrive.
Realm Breaker is a tried-and-true adventure story, and it’s all about the journey to save the realm. We spend a lot of time getting introduced to the world through the characters that are picked up along the way. Each one that joins the group has a purpose, and the plot pushes forward to find each character and showcase their unique skills for the trip. There are some setbacks and struggles of course, but the events in Realm Breaker felt like a precursor to the big showdown and we’re not quite there yet. Don’t get me wrong the story is fun and there is a great twist at some point; however, this first book feels like a setup for the rest of the series. I loved the chaos and trials the group is put through, but I didn’t feel a sense of urgency to save the world. It was like entering a starting zone in World of Warcraft. I’m collecting items, learning how to use my abilities, meeting new people, and checking off easy quests to test my chops before going for the big bad in a dungeon.
I’m a big fan of Realm Breaker, and I have nothing to complain about besides wanting more POV share from some of the characters. I am bubbling with anticipation because I must continue on my adventure with these companions. Knowing Aveyard, I’m sure there is something devastating waiting for me in book two. Onward then.
Rating: Realm Breaker – 9.5/10