REVIEW: The Pattern of the World by J.T. Greathouse

Following the pact-shattering ending of The Garden of Empire, the gods are now able to pursue their war, unwoven monsters stalk the land, time has been distorted, and reality could be coming undone at the seams. Foolish Cur/ Wen Alder has had a habit of making the wrong decisions throughout Pact and Pattern, with his efforts to use unregulated magic to kill the Emperor being his biggest mistake so far, falling into a trap set by the gods.

Cover for The Pattern of the World by J.T. GreathouseIn The Pattern of the World, we join the same point of view characters featured in the previous book, as they try to salvage the current situation and put the pieces back together. Again, we are witness to Foolish Cur’s first-person point-of-view perspective as he relays events. Other viewpoints include Cur’s former tutor and the final stonespeaker Kora Ha, the Skyfather’s spear and witch of the old sort Ral Ans Urrera, and Emperor’s Hand Pinion, an able magic-wielder who wants revenge over Alder for causing the death of his brother. When reading I noted that Cur’s presentation was first-person, Ha’s and Pinion’s being third-person past tense and that Ral’s was delivered as third-person present tense. I did not find these shifts disorientating or problematic at all and by the time we reach The Pattern of the World’s conclusion, we are given the reasoning behind why and, to be honest, it is neat and makes perfect sense in hindsight.

“I felt the spark of an old fire in me, the light of curiosity that had first kindled in childhood and had been fed steadily throughout my life, until mistake after world-shattering mistake had thrown soil and water on the flame, dousing it.”

Part 1 of the novel “City” starts at a steady pace, showcasing the altered world that the characters find themselves in, whilst also setting the players’ journies or agendas to the reader, hinting at what is likely to follow. Although these segments are important stages of the overall narrative, I was not excited to pick up the book during these parts, and unfortunately, it was a bit of a slog. If I had not already put in 800+ pages of reading Pact and Pattern, I would have DNF’d The Pattern of the World then. I persisted after a couple of days of putting my reading on hold and what followed, from the amazing conclusion of Part 1 “City” to the rest of the novel’s events, was a competent and enjoyable 4-star read, that featured a handful of moments that were pure brilliance.

The Pattern of the World is a character-focused, magic-potential-showcasing, cinematic and tragic well-written fantasy drama. It features bad decisions and mistakes and the consequences that come with them. Wen Alder has had rotten luck in this tale putting him close to Fitz (Realm of the Elderlings) for seemingly good intentions and the misery that is bestowed on them anyway by the author. That being said, Pinion has a few moments here that rival Alder for heartache. Furthermore, as commented on in previous reviews for this series, the magic system is well-realised, with clear rules without being overly extravagant.

An aspect Greathouse needs credit for, too, is that he presents the perfect amount of page time for all of the characters, main and minor. By the novel’s neat, fitting, and rewarding conclusion, I truly felt like I had been through the wringer alongside them. This series could have ended with a gargantuan battle but the author kept it exciting, tight, and the tone felt right in the final stages, doing justice to what had been built up until that point.

“It is vital that any record of war captures the horror that twists the hearts of all who fight, and the naivete, arrogance, and foolishness that breeds those horrors. I can only hope I have honoured the truth in crafting my own account, with all its foolishness and fumbling.”

For my overall reading experience of The Pattern of the World, I am awarding a 7/10. Even though many of the main characters are young adults, this series is undeniably adult dark fantasy. Greathouse has a great amount of talent, I will follow his career and likely read what he releases next. That being said, Pact and Pattern peaked early with the impressive The Hand of the Sun King.

Read an exclusive J.T. Greathouse article entitled Lenses on Complicity: Character Arcs in Pact & Pattern by clicking here.

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James Tivendale

James Tivendale

Reviewer. Sober. Runner. Peer Mentor. Pool Player. Poker Player. Fitness. Metal. Rap. Mario Kart. Zelda.