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The Unremembered (Author s Definitive Edition)
by Peter Orullian
Tor, Trade Paperback, $17.99, 478 pp
Published April 2015, original edition published 2011.

I wanted to like this book.

I met Orullian at Comicon a few years ago, and I enjoyed his contribution to the Unfettered anthology. And I like the idea of a magic system based around music.

But The Unremembered did not grab me. The prose is gorgeous, and the world building is amazing, but the story did not come together for me. Too much world building and too many POV characters made for a dizzying story.

The Unremembered is a standard example of the “chosen one” quest story. Tahn is a hunter and expert archer with a mysterious past, who, along with his sister and friend, embarks on a quest accompanied by a mysterious, magical “Sheason” and an equally mysterious “Far” warrior to stop the corruption of the world by the mythic evil “Quiet.”

Eons ago the Gods imprisoned the Quiet in a wasteland behind a magical curtain, but that magic is failing and the Quiet is escaping into the world. While many believe this to be a myth, the Sheason believes it to be true and that Tahn holds the fate of the world in his amnesiac mind.

A cool, if somewhat standard epic fantasy. And, as I said, Orullian does a wonderful job building the world around this quest. But so many POVs are introduced the plot is quickly lost amidst characters, place names and poetic epigrams. It quickly became disorienting and difficult. The plotting and characters rivals George R.R. Martin, while the magic and worldbuilding rival Brandon Sanderson, but those authors succeed in building their dense worlds because they know when to dial the backstory and POV characters back. Orullian keeps building until it is unmanageable

Their books are also quite a bit longer than The Unremembered. It felt like Orullian tried to cram two books worth of information into this one novel.

This edition is a newly revised “Author’s Definitive Edition.” Orullian supposedly trimmed quite a bit and added some additional sections, but the overall result was shorter than the original published version. I’m curious how those changes affected the story. There’s a lot of good in The Unremembered, but it’s lost amidst the confusion.

I’m not giving up, however. With the worldbuilding and character development out of the way, the sequel, The Vault of Heaven, should have plenty of room to marinade in Orullian’s musical prose. ~~ Michael Senft

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