Seventh Decimate, Stephen R. Donaldson Book Review

Hello Humans! Did I actually read a fantasy novel that wasn’t YA – and enjoy it? Am I dreaming? Have I entered some kind of parallel dimension where I behave like an adult? Nah! But this is a fun book to read and I’m excited to tell you all about it.

Goodreads Summary:

Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning. These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil.

But a seventh Decimate exists–the most devastating one of all…

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless.

Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate–and reverse the fate of his land.

All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains–and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn…

Find Seventh Decimate on Goodreads

Firstly, this is a quick read at only 307 pages hardcover. Maybe it just felt quicker because I had just ploughed my way through the Odyssey that was Those Above so anything (including the actual Odyssey) would feel like a quick read. Even so, this isn’t a lengthy fantasy novel which may be why I enjoyed it, there wasn’t time for me to get bored or to put the book down and moon over reading something else.

There are some fascinating elements and ideas explored in this story. I loved the idea of a world where they have guns, but it’s a finite number, stuck somewhere along in technological development. It was also interesting to look at how a society might react to having magic and then losing it – even though they didn’t seem to like it very much to begin with.

There are also some great moments of writing in this, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the desert which left me needing to go and get a glass of water they were so evocative. I’m also always here for descriptions of libraries in fantasy worlds, I have yet to find one I didn’t like. (Never met a library I didn’t like).

Having said that I enjoyed the length of this book, my main critique is actually the lack of world building. I didn’t need a lot more detail to help me to fully immerse in this story but there were just a few things missing. I didn’t get a sense of the size of the land the characters were crossing, I didn’t have a feel for the clothing, the culture, the small things that can make a big difference. I’m not saying this should have gone to Those Above levels of detail (because please no) but just a few tweaks here and there and I would have had a better sense of the setting. I suspect we’ll get more of this in the coming books in the series so I’ll be keeping an eye out.

I rarely foray into adult fantasy, much preferring YA, but this was a truly enjoyable quick read. I will be interested to see who else picks up this series and what they think of it.

My rating: 3/5 stars

I received a digital Advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

What say you? Is this on your tbr? Let me know in the comments below!


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