‘The Gates of Golor’ath’ is an epic fantasy novel set in a realm where the Lethen’al hide from the wrath of the Apostate behind the Gates of Golor’ath, separating them and the rest of humanity. Generations pass and the Lethen’al become masters of combat and magic and many are stationed at the Gates, guarding them against attempts by the Apostate to get through. Arielle and Angus are two Lethen’al graduates beginning their tours at the Gates, unaware of the fact that their lives are about to drastically change, for better or for worse.
They are faced with House rivalries, shrulks, blades, and even their own squads. This story follows Angus and Arielle as their two souls reach to form a unity. Will they succeed, or be driven apart once and for all?
I’m just going to dive straight into it. I loved this book! As a fantasy fan, I always have high expectations and a new fantasy book never fails to excite me. And this book did not disappoint. I really hope this review can do it justice.
The concept, the narrative, the characters and settings; all brilliant! At first, I was thinking it was going to be an epic fantasy version of Romeo and Juliet due to the House rivalries and how the attachment between Arielle and Angus grew so quickly, and honestly, I was a little bit worried about that due to the possible predictability. But, it turned out to be so much more, and it certainly surpassed my expectations. The action was gripping, the relationships (both positive and negative) were captivating, and the types of magic and fantastic features such as sin’dels and telepathic communications intrigued me.
I was fascinated by the idea of people’s sin’dels (auras) reacting to people and situations around them. I am also glad that we don’t have those in our reality as I find it difficult enough to keep it subtle when I really like (or dislike) someone without the incredible light show every time I saw them! But the moment of connection between Angus and Arielle was very amusing to read about, and the way Garino used the sin’dels to further develop powers and abilities was great!
The narrative was particularly interesting and original while still adopting the elements I love most from fantasy and general fiction books; adventure, action, magic, and just a little bit of romance. The characters’ need to work around the army’s disciplinary actions and their ways of bending the rules was fun and interesting to read. There was a sense of impending doom surrounding the characters as they juggle their duties, traditions, and the unfair treatments from their superiors, the Elc’atar. One of the main messages of this book being to choose your own path, not to follow one just because others want you to. Arielle did well to develop an understanding and awareness of this throughout the book.
Foreshadow was a large element of the book’s written style. The main narrative that the reader follows is set 304 years before the present day. The present-day narrative being of an Elder telling the story of the main narrative to a group of humans, giving a small impression of both the big thing that is going to happen at the end of this series and how it has (or hasn’t) impacted the lives of those living in the present day. The element of foreshadowing developed to be more prominent as we were taken back to each present day and the identity of the Elder became more clear each time we stepped out of the primary narrative. Something huge is going to happen later in this series. And I mean HUGE.
The characters were very well developed and varied. Creating the Houses helped with this as each House was portrayed with different character traits, but without the whole ‘this house is good and brave’, ‘this is the evil house’, ‘this house is for those who are intelligent or loyal’ like Hogwarts houses seem to do. They all had their stereotypes, but all seemed to enjoy breaking those stereotypes. This also made plenty of room for House rivalries to fit in but also allowed for unlikely alliances to develop between Houses. I would have liked to have read more about the other houses as there were times when I felt slightly overwhelmed by Fel’Mekrin House’s arrogance; I even began to dislike Gwen after a while, but that was mostly due to her excusing Logan’s behaviour and way of thinking because he was her brother and had a complicated way of thinking. Garino did well to create an antagonistic character that I was able to hate so much. I predict that Logan will play a big part in the huge thing that’s going to happen.
I loved the Pride’s (particularly Angus’) compassion and willingness to protect those around them, especially Ti’Vol in the brutal setting of an army camp. Through various tortures and Speaking of Ti’Vol, I’m hoping to see what happens to her and how she develops in the next book. And more lo’el! By far, one of my favourite parts of the book was Arielle bonding with the lo’el as it was one of the sweetest and most pure moments in the book!
Overall, I loved this book. The narrative, the characters, and the magic involved gripped me to this book and I really didn’t want it to finish. I’m excited to read the next one and read how the characters and plot develop further.
Check out R. M. Garino’s website here: https://www.rmgarino.com/