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Pantheon: The Phantom

Pantheon: The Phantom is Joshua Landeros’s second book in the Pantheon series. It is a sweeping fantasy epic that manages to carry on the first book’s story while expanding its world and bringing in enjoyable new characters.

The book is set in Landeros’s world of Avah and follows its people as they come to terms with the events of the first book and struggle to recover from the Hollow Wars. Just as people were hoping things were calming down, a new threat, the Pact of Ram has, arisen. As this new threat rises every allied nation is called to combat it. But who is really behind this new threat, and who can be trusted?

While this may be a conflict that spans nations, Landeros makes the wise choice of focusing his narrative on the everyday people dragged into it. The Phantom primarily focuses on Palkan Sowell, his daughter Athaliah and the rest of their people as they are pulled into a conflict they want nothing to do with.

The book features a diverse range of characters, and Landeros excels at fleshing them out. As in his earlier works, Landeros focuses on characters from all sides of the conflict, emphasizing their motivations, whether political, religious or purely self-preserving. While at first, the lines between good and evil seem clear cut, over time, it becomes increasingly clear that not everyone can be trusted, and even the heroes might have to get their hands dirty.

This is still a sweeping epic, however. When Landeros isn’t focusing on his individual characters, he is writing massive battles that often follow several different perspectives at once. While his writing is excellent across the board, Landeros’s writing is at its best when he is in the thick of battle. His battles are bloody, violent, and well-paced.

The pacing, in general, is excellent. Landeros deftly manages the balancing act of fleshing out the world he has created, forming deep characters, and keeping the pacing brisk. While his characters are enjoyable enough that I would have liked to spend more time with them, Landeros makes the wise choice to keep the plot moving ever onward.

The world-building is excellent here. Landeros has created his own world and filled it with different nations, races, and peoples, all with their own in-depth histories. Thankfully Landeros avoids too much exposition, and the reader gets to learn about his world in an organic way rather than being bogged down in lengthy explanations and exposition. If you’re a fan of fantasy epics, exciting battle scenes, or political intrigue, The Phantom is the book for you. While it might be a good idea to start with the first book if you want to follow everything, as a newbie Landeros made me feel welcome and I was never too lost. Highly recommended.

Pages: 313 | ASIN : B096L6QJT9

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Pantheon is the first of a two-part novel by Joshua Landeros. It takes place in the world of Avah, which has known peace for a generation after the devastating Hollow Wars. However, when a chieftain of the Midland Plains on the continent of Sebel tracks down bandits who’d raided his village’s crops, he finds hints of a conspiracy and a heretical cult that are plotting to overturn the peaceful world order. The story is told through the eyes of the chieftain’s daughter Athalia as she travels around Sebel and through Yaphet Orinse, an orphan raised by the venerable Asum of Giganato Shrine, who has seen disturbing visions of war.

Among Pantheon’s highlights is Landeros’ impressive world-building. He gives us enough information about Avah and Sebel that it feels like a real place without overwhelming the reader with a deluge of unneeded history and geography. He’s especially good at letting the reader know that there’s more to the world than what we see – for instance, Yaphet is close to the Asum of Giganato but not a member of the inner circle of the shrine the Asum leads, meaning that he and the reader have an almost but not quite insiders’ view of this part of the story.

The plot moves at a moderate pace. Much of the novel is spent accompanying Athalia on her travels and Yaphet in his training. These chapters make the reader invested in these characters’ lives. Still, Landeros regularly gives us a glimpse of the larger story, so no chapter is wasted space, and the reader always feels like he’s progressing. Landeros’ prose is serviceable; there are no Shakespearean turns of phrase, but it’s never awkward or unclear, either, and he excels at describing the action. However, readers should be aware that the novel does end on a cliffhanger, so those wanting the complete story will need to continue to the second novel.

Pantheon is a captivating dark fantasy novel that immerses the reader into a new world without feeling overwhelmed. The exciting adventure that the two protagonists undertake will give readers a feeling of horror as they encounter strange and dangerous beasts, and at times there is a sense of the more significant danger brewing under the surface as the delicate balance of peace is being disrupted.

Pages: 268 | ASIN : B088SY6PF4

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