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“Prophecy became a relentless inevitability.”

A Grave for Us All

A Grave for Us All is the sequel to Michael Roberti’s debut novel, The Traitors We Are, and the second volume in his Crown and Tide series. I will keep this review completely spoiler-free for readers who have not yet started this action-packed series.

Michael Roberti constructs his own game of thrones in a story that would make George R.R. Martin proud. No one is safe as competing factions vie for the throne, navigating their way through a web of political and romantic entanglements:

“Apart, we are weak and distracted, but together we are strong. We all know the princes are fighting and Emil Trestinsen sits and watches. And we are all expected to sit by and watch as a single family creates a grave for us all.”

Martin’s influence is evident throughout A Grave for Us All, which adopts a traditional medieval European fantasy setting akin to A Song of Ice and Fire but with an interesting twist. Roberti’s Crown and Tide series considers a world where writing disappears when its author dies, i.e., where a person’s writing is such an integral part of themselves that their words cease to exist when the writer perishes. A major implication of this phenomenon is that it becomes easy to rewrite an opponent’s history after vanquishing them in battle:

“‘The histories are being amended as we speak. It is important to make it clear that the Quinlens have always been the rulers of that duchy. That’s the beautiful thing about books. They always need rewriting. And after wars like these with so much writing gone?’ Mathis smiled. ‘Everyone will be too tired or too dead to refute it.’”

While Michael Roberti builds many layers of political intrigue throughout A Grave for Us All, he especially shines when focusing on his protagonists’ personal relationships. Merily continues to be the standout star among Roberti’s large cast of characters: A Grave for Us All is an absolute delight anytime she graces the page. Merily also has the best character arc thus far in the series.

I occasionally worried that Roberti was falling into George R.R. Martin’s trap of giving everyone and their uncle point-of-view status. By my count, there are over ten point-of-view characters in the main narrative of A Grave for Us All, with another seven or so in the flashback chapters and epilogues. While my personal preference is to focus on a smaller number of protagonists, Roberti does a commendable job juggling all these perspectives while maintaining a coherent and engaging narrative throughout the book.

Indeed, A Grave for Us All is compulsively readable from cover to cover. Michael Roberti has taken his writing to the next level, with spot-on pacing that kept me eagerly flipping the pages to find out what happens next. I love how the plot builds to its explosive climax, which took me completely by surprise.

Altogether, Michael Roberti improves upon his debut novel in every way with A Grave for Us All. The Crown and Tide series is perfect reading for George R.R. Martin fans as they wait (patiently) for The Winds of Winter.

4.5/5

A Grave for Us All

A Grave for Us All

A Grave for Us All

A Grave for Us All

A Grave for Us All

A Grave for Us All

A Grave for Us All

A Grave for Us All

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

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