REVIEW: The Fall of the Giants by Gregory Kontaxis

The Fall of the Giants by Gregory Kontaxis is the second volume of his epic fantasy series, The Dance of Light, following up on his debut novel, The Return of the Knights. Originally published in Greek, The Fall of the Giants has been translated into English by Sophia Travlos and edited by K.E. Andrews, providing a polished reading experience that, for me, is indistinguishable from native English.

The Fall of the GiantsThe scope of The Dance of Light series is enormous, filled to the brim with political intrigue and warring factions. Thankfully, Gregory Kontaxis includes a comprehensive list of characters and information on each kingdom at the beginning of the book. I found myself consulting the list frequently, especially during the early part of the book.

The Fall of the Giants brings greater nuance to all the principal characters of the series. I must confess that I was rather annoyed with the lead protagonist, Elliot, in The Return of the Knights, where he came across as brash and overconfident. I found Elliot to be much more realistic, and therefore more relatable, in this second book of the series.

As in The Return of the Knights, I enjoyed the over-the-top villainy of Walter Thorn, a local warlord trying to overthrow Queen Sophie of Knightdorn. Another favorite villain is John (the “Long Arm”), a former bounty hunter and member of Walter’s inner circle, whose backstory is given in the excellent prequel novella, The Knight of the Moon.

Nevertheless, my favorite character in The Fall of the Giants is Queen Sophie herself. She is, perhaps, the most complex character in the series, a lonely monarch who has lost most of her family and close allies. Sophie is weary from carrying the weight of a crown that she feels ambivalent about at best.

The main story of The Fall of the Giants concerns a competition between Elliot and Walter as they seek to form alliances with various legendary races. While Elliot strives to free the Elder Races, elwyn and elves, Walter pursues a fearsome set of allies in giants and their most loyal companions, the terrifying wyverns. With the power of giants and wyverns on his side, Walter could become unstoppable.

Kontaxis maintains a steady pace throughout this second volume of the series, never lagging as the story builds up to its striking climax. Despite the obvious comparisons to A Game of Thrones, Kontaxis has a tighter focus on the key storylines compared to George R.R. Martin. However, The Dance of Light series also dials back on elements of gray morality compared to Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Personally, I would have preferred a bit more moral ambiguity in the lead characters in The Fall of the Giants.

Overall, The Fall of the Giants improves upon The Return of the Knights in every way, delivering an impressive epic fantasy that brings new layers of nuance to both the characters and story.

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John Mauro

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.