Book Review - IDOLS FALL by Mike Shel

(Title: Idols Fall / Author: Mike Shel / Publisher: Self-Published / Publication Date: April 21, 2021 / Pages: 614)

I knew that Mike Shel's Iconoclasts trilogy was going to be one of my all-time favorites immediately following my read of the first book, Aching God.  It was such a different and refreshing dark fantasy story that shed every trope that you can think of and carved out new and exciting ground.  So much so that the book advanced all the way to the finals of Mark Lawrence's Self-Published Fantasy Book-Off competition back in 2018.  That feeling was only strengthened by the brilliant sequel, Sin Eater, which took an already fantastic story to even loftier heights.  Almost exactly three years from the release of book one, and here we are at the end of the trilogy as IDOLS FALL is scheduled to be published on April 21st.  I was fortunate enough to obtain an advance copy a few weeks ago and in short, it was even better than I could have envisioned the final chapter of this phenomenal series to be.

IDOLS FALL picks up some time after the events that culminated the middle book, Sin Eater.  Agnes Manteo has suffered more than her share of loss and heartache but has also gained a hardened resolve that, along with her magical sentient sword Szaa'da'shaela, drives her toward her ultimate goal of putting an end to the charlatan gods' reign of terror and destruction.  Only through supreme focus and the experience gained from her previous travails can she even be able to think of carrying out this near-impossible task.

As the story progresses, we also get to see another POV chapter storyline involving Ilanda Padivale, who herself has a major role to contribute in the journey that unfolds.  Together with Agnes Manteo's thread, it really becomes a reading experience unlike any other where I felt the ferocity of the story never waned for a second.  I liken the transition from chapter to chapter as going from a blazing inferno into a Category 5 hurricane.  This book in particular really ramps up the action and intensity, but that was to be expected given the developments leading up to now.

What I didn't expect were many of the revelations that were enticingly hinted at in earlier books and then so skillfully delivered by Shel in this one.  Oh and I also need to mention that IDOLS FALL contains one of the most mind-blowing reveals I've ever read in any fantasy book!  This book is worth reading just to experience that one moment because it genuinely rocked me and left me stunned.  Do yourself a favor though and read every book because the entire journey is what makes Iconoclasts one of the best fantasy series I've ever encountered.

I can't remember a final book in a series that satisfied and thrilled me this much.  At over 600 pages, you would think IDOLS FALL would be a daunting read, but I devoured this book so quickly because I could never put it down for any significant amount of time.  The action never takes a break, the sorcery is dark and brutal, the heroism is off the charts, and the world-building is among the best in the genre.  Throw in the GOAT of all magical swords that can communicate telepathically with its bonded wielder, and I don't really know what else you could want as a fantasy reader.

IDOLS FALL is one of those magical books that don't come around very often.  A thrilling conclusion that makes you walk away thinking wow, not only was that a more than satisfying end to a magnificent story, but it also created so many memorable and gripping moments that it did this series the justice that it so richly deserves.  I'm somewhat frustrated that I can't even remotely come close to putting into words the emotions that I felt upon reading the words THE END.  Because I wasn't nearly ready for it to end, not by a long shot.

To wrap things up I will just say this: Mike Shel is an author who you should be reading if you are looking for fantasy that takes chances, teems with incredibly suspenseful moments of impending dread, is rife with characters who are diverse and push themselves to the limit to overcome obstacles, and just flat out has some of the tightest and best writing around.  Embark on the outstanding adventure that is Iconoclasts and I promise you that from beginning to end you will be sucked in 100%.  A perfect end to a perfect series that I won't soon forget.  I only hope that we get to revisit this world and these characters again sometime down the road.  Until then I will look forward to the next Mike Shel book with eager anticipation.

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