Wall of Spears by Duncan Lay

Wall of SpearsA review by Rebecca Muir

Pages: 560
Format: paper or ebook
Publisher: HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)

Wall of Spears is the final installment in Duncan Lay’s Empire of Bones trilogy. I have previously reviewed the first two books, Bridge of Swords and Valley of Shields, and you can read the reviews by following the links.

In this book, Sendatsu, Huw and Rhiannon must once risk everything to save the Velsh. The elves are threatening to invade, while the Forlish are also marching towards them. However, there is treachery and manipulation going on, and alliances shift and change throughout the book as each party seeks to come out on top.

Sumiko, the head of the Dokuzen magic weavers, has been whispering promises of power. However, she has her own agenda and will stop at nothing to see her dreams fulfilled. King Ward of Forland is still driven by his desire to make humanity as great as it once was. Now, however, he has been given a gift of a second chance as a father and he must balance the claims of fatherhood with the responsibilities of kingship.

Asami faces hard choices, torn between the two men with a claim on her heart, and repressed by cultural expectations. She is lonely, missing Sendatsu and Rhiannon, but too proud to reach out to her friends. Asami is caught up in a plot by Sumiko and is thrust back into the middle of the action.

Sendatsu, caught between two peoples, is desperate to bring those people together in order to right the wrongs of the past and make a better future for his children. Meanwhile, Huw finds himself needing to make hard decisions to keep his people safe. Is the enemy of your enemy really your friend or are you just surrounded by enemies?

The Empire of Bones trilogy is dramatic and engrossing – they are hard books to put down. However, I found the interaction between the characters frustrating at times in the first two books. There was a lot of tension in the relationships as the characters kept on letting each other down and lying to each other. I found this third book, Wall of Spears, much less frustrating. The tension comes a lot more from the confrontations between enemies and the machinations of Sumiko, and less from mistrust between friends.

In the first two books, the spotlight was mostly on Sendatsu, Rhiannon and Huw, as well as Asami to a lesser degree. In this book, the focus widens and we find out a lot more about other characters such as King Ward of Forland, his queen, Mildreth and Sendatsu’s mother, Noriko.

Themes from the first two books are picked up and developed further in Wall of Spears. The theme of fatherhood is revisited. The relationship of Sendatsu to his father is explored again as is his fatherhood of his children to some extent. The start of each chapter is a letter from a father to his son; these passages become a vehicle for exploring the fatherhood theme.

The troubled relationship of King Ward to his sons is highlighted in this book. He had given up on them as men of whom he could be proud, naming another heir. However, in Wall of Spears he seeks to restore his relationship with them and make up for his failings as a father. The response of his eldest son to this highlights further the impact that a father’s attention and opinion can have on their children.

The theme of deception is present again. Betrayal and lies abound as different characters seek their own agenda. There is less focus on lies between the main characters although the relationship between Sendatsu and Asami is still tainted with deception that they must work through.

Another main theme which has been carried through the series is heroism. Different characters in this book display courage and valour in different ways. Even some characters who have not really been protagonists through the series are shown to have some level of heroism in the choices they end up making.

The whole trilogy has had great depth to the characters: they are interesting, complex and compelling. In particular I enjoyed seeing the journey of Sendatsu from a weak, rather contemptuous character into a man of strength and honour. Wall of Spears continues in the same mold with strong characters. Many minor characters from the first two books are explored and given depth in this book. The plot lines throughout the trilogy are dramatic and exciting; Wall of Spears is no exception. It is a good conclusion to a series which has grown on me as I have read it. I think I liked Wall of Spears best out of the trilogy. I recommend this book and this series to readers who like epic fantasy with rich characters and battles, magic, intrigue and a bit of romance.