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Review: Orion – Tears of Isha / Author: Darius Hinks / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now

One of the nice things about the Warhammer fantasy setting is that the elvish races have been incredibly well detailed. Most fantasy worlds tend to be light on information when it comes to these mysterious and magical beings, but in order to sell toy soldiers, Games Workshop have been fleshing out and chronicling the various flavours of elf in their franchise for decades, and the forest-dwelling Wood Elves are perhaps the most interesting of the bunch, and also the focus of Darius Hinks’ latest novel.

Orion: Tears of Isha is the sequel to Vault of Winter, and details the aftermath of the events in that first book. Being a Warhammer novel, the first book was full of action and intricately woven plot lines, with the promise of at least some explanation in the next book. However, part two is even messier and over-involved. Hinks’ style can be haphazard at best; his work rarely flows easily but it is usually full of little gems that keep the reader engaged. Sadly, Tears of Isha is so disjointed that it’s distracting. This is partially because the protagonists are under so much pressure, but also because several of the characters are so incredibly unlikable that they become impenetrable.

There is still plenty of fantasy action to be had, and the elves, though aloof and annoying, do make the tale distinctive and engaging. None of this is enough, though, to distract you from the narrative's flaws. The encroaching evil that is slowly destroying the woodland feels as if it should be an urgent and pressing problem, but this element is instead sidelined in favour of a plot involving beating up lots of humans. There is also a plodding subplot about human wizardry that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

Orion: Tears of Isha suffers from a lot of middle book issues, and feels very much like the bridging part of a series. Too many story strands are left hanging throughout the narrative, making the tale seem forced and stale. If it wasn’t for the author’s ability to deliver well put-together action sequences, this wouldn’t be worth the effort. As it is, it’s a mediocre adventure tale that fails to deliver on the huge amount of potential the first book promised. We can only hope that the final instalment of this series is a vast improvement.

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