Waiting on Wednesday – Gods of the Wyrdwood by R. J. Barker

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  For this latest entry I look at one of my most anticipated fantasy releases of 2023 with Gods of the Wyrdwood by R. J. Barker.

Gods of the Wyrdwood Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

There have been some outstanding fantasy works in the last few years and I have been lucky enough to experience a range of talented authors and fantastic stories.  However, few authors have engaged me with their creativity, cleverness and ability to bring complex characters to life than the phenomenal and continually improving author, R. J. Barker.  Barker debuted back in 2017 with his debut novel, Age of Assassins that kicked off The Wounded Kingdom trilogy.  Following an assassin and his master as they attempt to unravel a political conspiracy in a dark castle, Age of Assassins was an awesome book that served as a great introduction to Barker’s writing style.  However, Age of Assassins was only the start, as he soon followed up this first book with two epic sequels, Blood of Assassins and King of Assassins, both of which saw the aging protagonist become involved in several elaborate plots and battles as he tries to keep his king/best friend alive.  Both these novels were extremely good and Barker seemed to markedly improve with each book, with King of Assassins being an exceptional, five-star read in my opinion, especially with its many dark twists.

As such, by the end of The Wounded Kingdom trilogy, I was very impressed with Barker as an author, however, Barker was just getting started.  In 2019, only two years after his debut, Barker unleashed a second trilogy with The Tide Child series.  Set in a whole new fantasy world, The Tide Child trilogy was an intriguing nautical-based dark fantasy that followed a crew of a condemned ship, made of dragon bone, as they attempt to survive the dark machinations of a corrupt government while attempting to bring back the ancient sea dragons previously hunted to extinction.  This incredible trilogy stated with The Bone Ships (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2019), an excellent and powerful read that perfectly introduced the trilogy’s main characters and showcased just how far Barker had come as an author as he seamlessly dived into a whole new sub-genre of fantasy fiction by pulling together an epic tale on the high seas.  The following two novels, Call of the Bone Ships and The Bone Ship’s Wake (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), were incredible sequels the expertly continued the great story while providing some powerful development to the main character.  Everything was given a dramatic and fitting ending in the final novel and The Tide Child series ended up being one of the very best trilogies I have ever read.

Naturally, after how exceptional his first two trilogies have been, I have been quite eager to see what this talented author would do next and I am deeply excited to see what new and elaborate fantasy setting and scenario he brings together.  Well, after a couple of years of waiting, my fantasy fiction prayers are about to be answered as a brand-new R. J. Barker series is set to start in June 2023.

This new Barker series will be known as the Forsaken trilogy and will once again be set in a new dark fantasy world.  The first book in this Forsaken series will be the 2023 release, Gods of the Wyrdwood, which they just released an epic cover for.  This new book has a very intriguing narrative to it and I have been very excited by all the cool details that have been revealed.

Plot Synopsis:

In a world locked in eternal winter and haunted by prophecy, a young boy trains for years to become the Chosen One, only for another to rise and claim his place in the start of an unmissable epic from a rising star in fantasy.

The northlands of Crua are locked in eternal winter, but prophecy tells of the chosen child – who will rule in the name of their God, and take warmth back from the South. Cahal du Nahere was raised to be this person: the Cowl-Rai, the saviour. Taken from his parents and prepared for his destiny.

But his time never came.

When he was fifteen he ceased to matter. Another Cowl-Rai had risen, another chosen one, raised in the name of a different God. The years of vicious physical and mental training he had endured, the sacrifice, all for nothing. He became nothing.

Twenty years later, and Cahal lives a life of secrecy on the edges of Crua’s giant forests – hiding what he is, running from what he can do. But when he is forced to reveal his true nature, he sets off a sequence of events that will reveal secrets that will shake the bedrock of his entire world, and expose lies that have persisted for generations.

So Barker is going to put his own unique spin on the classic ‘Chosen One’ storyline, yeah now that is something I can really get behind.  I already knew that I was going to love this awesome book, but damn me if that above awesome synopsis hasn’t gotten me extra excited.  I am extremely intrigued with the idea of the story following a chosen child who is replaced and made obsolete by another rising chosen champion, especially as it going to play into the larger storyline and the character’s growth so extremely well.  I can just imagine how much chaos the character is going to unleash when he reveals his existence to the world, and I am sure that every damn second of it is going to be glorious.  Thrown in an inventive and cool new fantasy world from Barker, this time an ice-locked wilderness, and I am very damn sure that this is going to be another exceptional novel.

Look, based on how much I raved about Barker at the start of this article, I doubt anyone is too surprised that I have some very high hopes for Gods of the Wyrdwood.  This author has produced some truly epic and exceptional works over the years, and it honestly seems to me that everything he touches turns to gold.  As such, I was already pretty damn excited for this book, and the powerful plot synopsis and the very striking cover has only reinforced this.  As such, I fully expect Gods of the Wyrdwood to be one of the very best books of 2023 and I intend to grab it the second that it comes out.  Everything about this book, from the story to the author, is already very outstanding and my mind, and I cannot wait to see what magic Barker weaves in this promising upcoming trilogy.

Amazon     Book Depository

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