It is my pleasure to be on the blog tour today for Clare Rhoden’s trilogy, ‘Chronicles of the Pale’. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for including me. I have read all three books, and I am most grateful for my copies of these, which I have reviewed honestly, impartially and individually.
The first in the series is ‘The Pale’.
The Outside can be a dangerous place.
But so can the inside.
It’s been years since the original cataclysm, but life has been structured, peaceful, and most of all uneventful in the Pale. The humachine citizens welcome the order provided by their ruler, the baleful Regent.
However, when one of their own rescues a human boy, Hector, from ravenous ferals on the Outside, their careful systems are turned upside down.
As Hector grows more and more human-strange, the citizens of the Pale grow uneasy.
What will happen when the Outside tries to get in?
Purchase Link –The Pale
The second is ‘Broad Plain Darkening
The safe world of the Pale is under threat.
Inside the policosmos, the new Regent Adaeze strives for dominance over the all-powerful Senior Forecaster, but the Pale’s humachine citizens are unaware that their city is close to collapse.
Outside on Broad Plain, the exiled human Hector undertakes a dangerous trek to find a safe haven for the orphaned twins.
How can anyone survive as their world shifts underneath them?
Purchase Link – Broad Plain Darkening
The third is ‘The Ruined Land’
Exiled from the Pale, humachine Hector has found a home with the tribes Outside.
Or has he?
While the canini struggle to care for the human twins, Feather travels Broad Plain to reunite them with their father. But his own family is scattered as the Pale sends out its terrifying army and the land itself buckles beneath them.
Can anyone survive the ruination of the land?
In this gripping conclusion to the Chronicles of the Pale, the citizens of the mighty Pale have as much to lose as the communities of the Outside.
So, it’s been the summer holidays and boy, it’s been busy. I only started reading this trilogy about 8 days ago, and I was worried I wouldn’t do it in time, having deposited four youngsters back into school, one child’s subsequent illness and another’s broken arm! Such is life though, and I will state from the outset that I haven’t enjoyed a series of books this much for years, probably not since Raymond E Feist’s Riftwar Cycle, and this, dear author and readers, is what has carried me through in time!
Clare Rhoden explains a complicated dystopian new world order very capably, through superbly written prose and convincing dialogue between her characters.
In The Pale, we learn that there has been a past event known as the Conflagration, an event set in a version of human future, so cataclysmic that all species are displaced, and have had to organise themselves once again. The current time is 197pc (post-conflagration), and the Pale has the highest population of organised life. If you can call it life. Humans in the past had abused the use of technology and science to disastrous effect, but in the Pale, humachines are the nearest relation to how some humans (probably the ones in charge) had become. They are propagated as engineered eggs, population is strictly controlled and there is an important distinction between those more important, and those not. They are ruled over by a regent, who is given the information needed to rule by a selection of senior advisors. They are protected by formidable walls and weaponry and there is total subservience and adherence to protocol, which lands serviceman Tad in trouble.
Broad Plain is also home to the Settlement, ruled by a chief and the religious leader of the Temple. This operates on a version of a caste system, whereby only those who have been assessed as a perfect example of the human species are permitted to breed. A lower town works to maintain the comfort of the higher town. This feels more familiar and uncomfortable than any other place written about.
The protectionist attitudes of the walled cities dictate that, although other places, humans and species exist, there should be no interaction (beyond Settlement trade). When it does happen, regardless of their rules, can this be tolerated in any circumstances?
The canini are genetically altered canines, who live free from their human masters in large family groups. One of the legacies of their human interaction, pre-conflagration, is their ability to use mindspeech, not only amongst themselves, but to communicate with other species who are receptive. They are wonderful.
There are numerous tribes of humans, and we are introduced to the Storm, who live lightly on the land and move around regularly to limit their impact. They have no walls, and so are considered to inhabit the Outside.
The Outside is a dangerous place now. Not only could you run into pantheras, strikebeasts and snakes, the engine ferals are enough to give anyone nightmares, and they are our own fault.
So, I suppose we could say that we can see how we could, how we do, and perhaps how we should live, all within these stories set on Broad Plain.
In the first of the trilogy, there is an aftershock, a massive geological event following the first conflagration. There is massive damage on Broad Plain, and the communities must reassess many aspects of how life is managed.
More than once during the reading of these Chronicles, my part of our joint cognitive dissonance felt a distinct tremor of its own, particularly with regard to treatment of other species, our environment, and acceptance of technologies developed for who knows what, really.
We get many equal third person perspectives from multiple characters, who are all expertly drawn. I don’t think there is one voice louder than the others in the telling, and I loved how my interest in the story was maintained by moving from one to another character’s experiences.
My guilty pleasure was in the form of the magnificently Machiavellian Senior Forecaster of the Pale, Jaxon Tangshi (think Petyr Baelish/Peter Mandelson, but with longevity). Most of the *gasp, no! moments happened because of him, so I just loved his character although he is completely hateful.
Progressing through the series, I was in awe of the author’s ability to handle grief and intense drama, yet bring hope, faith, loyalty and kindness into such abysmal chaos.
If there is one thing I would have liked (to risk sounding a bit like a disgruntled GOT fan), it is that there would just have been one more chapter near the end set in the Pale.
However, to criticise based on merely wanting more is not a failing at all. I totally loved Chronicles of The Pale and will be raving about them. In fact, Drew, if you’re reading this post at all, I think you’ll love these books.
If this is where we are headed, we need to be afraid. Should I have to face it, I would only do it, if I could, with a dog by my side as my equal, and on the lookout for friends.
Clare Rhoden is a writer, speaker and reviewer inspired by politics, culture and the march of history. Her thought-provoking stories and popular characters inspire hope and optimism through challenging times, with novels ranging from wartime history to the dystopian world of the Pale.
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