Review: The Pirates of Pacta Servanda by Jack Campbell

pirates of pacta servandaThe Pirates of Pacta Servanda by Jack Campbell
Series: The Pillars of Reality #4
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Release Date: Jan 12, 2016
Audiobook Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews

Master Mechanic Mari and Mage Alain have survived every attempt to stop them, but their enemies are determined to kill Mari, the only one who can save her world from a storm of destruction. As armies begin to gather and cities seethe with tension, Mari, Alain, and their friends must prepare to confront the storm in the place it first appeared: the broken kingdom of Tiae.

The dangers facing them demand perilous raids, tough battles, and more than a little piracy. Beating the Mechanics Guild and the Mage Guild that have controlled the world of Dematr for centuries will require an unprecedented alliance under Mari’s command of rebellious Mechanics, Mages, and common folk who know that together they can change the world, but separately they will all lose.

D.G.’s Rating: 4 stars = B+

The Pirates of Pacta Servanda marks a big change in the story. Instead of Alain and Mari by themselves against the Guilds, Mari steadily gains a small army of mechanics, mages and commons by the end of this book. Instead of fighting to survive, Mari now goes on the offensive with strategic attacks. The book is also darker, as both Alain and Mari grapple with the magnitude of the task they have ahead of them and the consequences of failure.

After miraculously surviving the assassins in Altis, Mari ends up with a whole ship of followers, including several mechanics and mages. Now that she has all the information she needs, she decides to go to Tiae, a kingdom destroyed by civil wars. She figures that going there will serve two purposes: hide from the guilds until she’s ready to fight them and start fixing the place where the destruction began.

Even though there’s a lot of excitement in this book: fights at sea, rescues, piracy, raids and sneak attacks, there’s also A LOT OF TALKING. All this talk is necessary for Mari to get the help she needs from commons and mechanics but it still bogged the book down. Over and over, Mari has to convince government officials from the commons that she’s for real. Their disbelief is understandable – they have been oppressed by mechanics for centuries so they find it very hard to believe that a mechanic is the savior they have all been waiting. Mari also has to convince mechanics to follow her and explain the reasons why she revolted against their Guild and has mages around. Surprisingly, the only ones that don’t need convincing are the mages. They know that Mari is the daughter of the prophesy and they see in Alain that a new wisdom is possible, one where they can feel and still keep their powers.

Given the amount of new characters in this book, it’s not surprising that Mari and Alain spend a lot less time together. I thought this was a good thing, specially in the case of Alain. His friendship with Asha deepens, to the point where he shares the burden of a disturbing vision with her. He listens to a mechanic divulging the harrowing details of her time as an apprentice and shares some of the pain of his acolyte training. He is less perfect but a lot more human as he shows Mari some annoyance, hurt pride, deep concern and even gets “very angry” with her at some point (I thought he was so cute when he said that!)

As usual, I need to give a shout out to MacLeod Andrews and his narration. I don’t even have words to describe how amazing he is.

As a sort of transition book, this wasn’t the best of the lot but I feel things will be smoother from now on. I have soo many questions but thankfully, books 5 & 6 will come out within a month of each other so I don’t have long to learn how things will end.

Series Reading Order
1. The Dragons of Dorcastle
2. The Hidden Masters of Marandur
3. The Assassins of Altis
4. The Pirates of Pacta Servanda
5. The Servants of the Storm
6. The Wrath of the Great Guilds

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