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“In a battle of preservation and progression, there can only be one victor.”

Elegy of a Fragmented VineyardElegy of a Fragmented Vineyard is the promising start to Kaden Love’s dark, intriguing, and wildly imaginative Paladins of the Harvest series. Full of morally complex characters, deadly political machinations, grim philosophical quandaries, unique fantastical elements, and dangerous sparks of rebellion, this story is unpredictable in all the best ways.

Ten years ago, babies suddenly started being born with an extra organ granting them powers from the gods. Five years ago, half the continent chose to Harvest these infants’ organs to graft them into power-hungry adults. Now, the flames of rebellion have been lit. A Harvester turned rebel, a noblewoman willing to do anything to preserve the Harvest, and an inquisitive scribe; the fate of the world lies in their hands, whether they know it or not, and they will stop at nothing to fight for what they believe is right.

Right from the very first page, it is evident how much love, care, time, and passion has gone into the creation of this vast and utterly unique fantasy world. The first few chapters of Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard might feel quite overwhelming, with a heavy load of world building being delivered in not the most organic way. Yet even though I had a hard time finding my footing, there were just so many fresh concepts immediately grabbing my interest, and the intrigue factor was high enough for me to keep turning the pages.

Learning about all the diverse cultures, distinct religious belief systems and different ways of life in the six Courts of Facet was super fascinating to me, and their clashing ideologies created some great natural tension in the story. What’s more, the imaginative fantastical elements in Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard sparked a sense of wonder in me that I rarely experience anymore when reading fantasy. Both the various manifestations of the Endowed/Endower’s supernatural powers, as well as all the peculiar species and creatures roaming these lands showcase Love’s incredibly wild and exciting imagination.

However, I personally do feel like the exquisite world building in Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard came somewhat at the expense of good and emotionally engaging character work. On the surface, I really did enjoy following each of these three protagonists, especially because they all come from such different walks of life and provide a completely fresh perspective on the situation. The themes of morality, cultural identity, religion, and blind faith are explored in very meaningful ways, and particularly Aerhee’s flashback sequences added some much-appreciated deeper layers to the story.

Yet despite these characters being so diametrically opposed in so many ways, I found their personal voices to be nearly indistinguishable. Their individual journeys were certainly compelling, but there was just a certain lack of emotional depth that made it hard for me to feel invested in the causes they were risking their lives for. And that level of investment was even lower for the overwhelmingly large cast of named side characters, who mostly all just blended together in my mind (aside from Semi and Voln, I want more of them!).

All that said, I honestly did not have a bad experience with Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard at all, and it speaks to the quality of the writing that I never even contemplated putting the book down, despite my personal quibbles. The big climax was truly riveting, if a bit chaotic, and there were some shocking twists and turns at the end that completely roped me in to come back for more.

There is simply no denying that Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard is an extremely ambitious debut which shows a lot of potential. Kaden Love is a fresh new voice in the genre, and I am quite excited to follow him along on his promising author journey.
If you are the type of patient reader who is willing to trust the process and who enjoys their fantasy to be epic in every sense of the word, then this sprawling, imaginative, and philosophically challenging political fantasy is absolutely the book for you!

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Esmay Rosalyne

Esmay is a self-proclaimed professional book devourer from The Netherlands. While (dark) fantasy will always have her heart, she is also a big indie/self-pub enthusiast and will probably read anything if the premise sounds intriguing enough. Or, you know, if it promises complete emotional destruction. When not reading books, she is probably reviewing books, talking about books, or watching videos of fellow bookworms talking about books.

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