“We are born in the shadow of fading memories and fallen dreams, living our days within the decaying bones of an age long gone.”
When the Engineer, Actaeon, arrives at Pyramid in the heart of Redemption, nothing goes according to plan. Mysterious raiders pursue him relentlessly across the shattered remains of the ancient metropolis, and the leaders of his homeland pay no heed to his ambitious ideas. Meanwhile, deep beneath Pyramid, a deadly creature stirs. And, when Actaeon meets a skilled young Knight Arbiter with brilliant blue eyes, he starts down a path he could never have imagined.
The vast, fallen city of the Ancients is home to a new people who face the constant struggle to find resources needed to survive in the dangerous ruins. For the Engineer, however, Redemption is a treasure trove of technology, opportunity, and answers. But his unique skills make him a target for those who would use his talents to achieve their own dreams of power and control.
In his endless quest for the truth, will Actaeon discover the fallen city’s greatest secrets? Or will he share the same fate as the Ancients of whom nothing remains but a whisper?
One thing is certain: in Redemption, everything comes with a cost.
I want to give a huge thanks to Darran for sending me a copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review. I was so excited, especially when I realized that The Engineer was a semi-finalist in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off in 2018. That’s already incredibly impressive, but Handshaw just about blew me away with some incredible, vivid world-building and a plot filled with twists and turns around every corner.
“The greatest heroes are the ones who can climb up from beneath all the weight of the world to overcome their shortcomings and do what is needed.”― Darran M. Handshaw, The Engineer
If you’re looking for an example of masterful worldbuilding, look no further than The Engineer. Handshaw has a talent for creative settings, as everything – from the history to the setting to the character interactions – worked together to create a fantastical landscape that feels alive; far more than just a backdrop for the protagonist’s adventures.
There’s a very dystopian feeling to this setting as well – taking place among the remnants of an ancient and advanced civilization – but also a sense of hope that I found incredibly refreshing. My absolute favourite part of this book was watching the layers and layers of worldbuilding as they built upon each other to create a phenomenal whole.
The characters were all very likeable and well rounded. Actaeon, a dedicated and inventive engineer, was a very fun protagonist, but my favourite characters were his mercenary companions. Wave and Trench were a fantastic duo and every scene with them absolutely stole the show. The slow-burn romance was also very well done. It felt like the characters were slowly, but steadily, developing a real foundation of friendship and respect, while still making their eventual romance feel real and not at all forced, as can often be the case.
“It is rare for certain to find two things that, without modification or alteration, can fit together with a perfection that is usually only manufactured.”― Darran M. Handshaw, The Engineer
My main criticism is that the plot unfolds at a very slow pace. I don’t need every plot point to rush towards the climax, but some sections went on just a bit too long, resting rather than pulling me forward with the narrative. The other issue I had was with the dialogue. All the characters spoke with the same sort of stiff delivery and formal tone. It made it a bit harder to connect with them since it felt more like they were giving a speech than talking among friends.
Again, keep in mind that all my critiques are based off my own personal preference, and none of that takes away from the fact that Darran is an incredible writer who created a fantastic story. The Engineer is the farthest thing from predictable, and the unravelling of the mysteries of the world and the Ancient civilization are nothing less than thrilling. This was a fantastic book by a fantastic writer, and I hope to see more from him in the future very soon!
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