Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the previous book in the series, We Are The Dead.
A Fool’s Hope by Mike Shackle is the superb sequel to We Are The Dead. It takes all that was great about that opening book of The Last War trilogy and runs with it in a story that, as the name kind of suggests, is themed around hope. The hope gets a bit of kicking though as the book lives up to its place in the ‘Grimdark’ genre.
The plot picks up almost immediately where We Are The Dead left off. The Egril are still in charge of Jia, their armies violently suppressing and subjugating its people, but the Jian’s final and last hope, the four-year-old rightful heir to their throne Zorique, and her guardian, Tinnstra, have successfully made it onto an allied ship as they flee Jia. However, their safety and escape isn’t guaranteed yet. Dren, having played his part in their escape, is determined to return to the war against the Egril, his hatred undimmed. Now, though, he brings a greater appreciation of the overall picture of the resistance effort against the Egril that will see him take on a more important role. Meanwhile Jax, the aging general of the Shulka and leader of the Hanran, is in a dark place mentally, suffering from the consequences and things he experienced throughout the previous book. Similarly, Yas is struggling to deal with the repercussions of her actions but must stay strong for her Little Ro, her baby boy, despite feeling stretched to the limit.
Alongside these returning characters, we get a few new perspectives. First, we have Ralasis: the Meigorian captain responsible for the rescue of Zorique and Tinnstra. Then we have two new Egril POVs: Francin, a high-ranking Chosen of Kage, and Mateon, a new recruit into the Egril army. These characters give us a bit of a peek into the other side of the main conflict and, in Mateon’s case, show us a more human side of the Egril civilization. There is one more new POV character to talk too, but I don’t really want to talk about them for fear of spoiling the plot. So, they will remain a mysterious secret!
The whole cast of characters really spring from the page in A Fool’s Hope, in much the same way they did in We Are The Dead. Mike Shackle really captures what makes each one unique and standout during their specific chapters and that means that there are no dull characters here. Sure, my favourite is Dren, but I enjoyed everyone’s POV. I think a huge part of this was the way Mike Shackle handled each character’s arc, with even the returning characters going through big changes so that nothing feels rehashed. In this respect, A Fool’s Hope definitely keeps up with the relentless pace that was one of the defining characteristics of the first book – though, in general, I would say the action is a little less urgent than in We Are The Dead. Not that this is a negative in anyway, while some of the characters aren’t constantly on the run, like they were before, there is still LOADS of tension to their stories to keep you engaged.
Overall, this is a great second book for The Last War series. I read it straight after We Are The Dead as I couldn’t wait to begin it and I am really looking forward to the third book, whenever that comes out!
If you fancy picking up this book, then I have included my affiliate link for it (and the previous book in the series, We Are The Dead) below. This is with bookshop.org, an online book store that supports local independent book shops.