The Ember Reach

Planar Lost: Book Two

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
534 Pages
Reviewed on 03/25/2024
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

J. Gibson is a dabbler in dark fantasy fiction.

In his spare time, he enjoys reading, writing, and watching.

When he has no time to spare, he ends up doing these, anyway.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Olga Markova for Readers' Favorite

The Ember Reach: Planar Lost by J. Gibson is a riveting blend of epic fantasy and horror. The story transports us to the imaginary universe of Planar Lost. Karis Valjyre, a private examiner of illegitimate affairs, wakes up to find her city of Imbredon invaded by the living dead and set on fire. Fleeing, Karis feels like an unseen hand is moving her. She finds herself in a magical reality where an apparition advises her to travel to the ruined valley where good fortune awaits her. Meanwhile, in the ruling circles of the Empire, a senior member of the clergy was slain and two others vanished. Archbishop Delacroix and her Scribe Officiate, Amun Halleck, set off on the search mission. What lies ahead for them?

The Ember Reach is the second book of the Planar Lost series by the talented J. Gibson, but it reads perfectly well as a standalone. The atmospheric descriptions of the places reached, the awesome portraits of the characters, the action-driven plot, perilous adventures, magical combat, and eventual jaw-dropping revelations are a few notable features of this amazing epic fantasy. The events are centered on the standoff between good and evil. I was particularly impressed by the implied allusion to the violence in Eastern Europe implemented by the scene-setting map featuring the Black Sea. Suspenseful and riveting, this novel will thrill epic fantasy, horror, and adventure fans and make a great film adaptation. Graphic violence and gore-abundant magical combat make this epic fable unsuitable for children.

K.C. Finn

The Ember Reach is a work of fiction penned by author J. Gibson in the dark fantasy, adventure, thriller, and horror subgenres, and is the second novel in the Planar Lost series after The Blackened Yonder. The work is best suited to the adult reading audience. Readers are plunged back into a dark and thrilling tale set in a world besieged by terror and chaos. Karis Valjyre, an investigator, finds herself in a city engulfed in flames, overrun by the living dead. As she fights for survival and seeks answers amidst the horrors surrounding her, hundreds of miles away, Sister Amun Halleck confronts a sinister conspiracy threatening her kingdom. With fates intertwining and danger lurking at every turn, the characters must navigate treacherous landscapes and confront terrifying adversaries to uncover the truth and survive the looming threat.

Author J. Gibson has crafted a superb follow-up novel that once again blends elements of horror, suspense, and dark fantasy to create a vivid and atmospheric world filled with danger and intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed the sharp style of narrative, which considerably intensified the horror and thriller elements for me. The characters are compelling and even more well-developed than the first novel, each facing their own trials and tribulations as they navigate the perils of their shattered reality. So many second books in a series can fall into the trap of not living up to the first tale’s surprises and twists, but this novel's fast-paced plot and unexpected discoveries kept me just as eager to uncover the secrets hidden within the shadows as ever before. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Ember Reach as a gripping and immersive experience that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what more this exciting series brings us in the future.

Ana-Maria Leasa

The Ember Reach: Planar Lost by J. Gibson is the second book in this saga of dark fantasy filled with horror, mystery, magic, the undead, and more. If the first book sets the score and expectations high, this one doesn’t disappoint either when the author introduces other intriguing and complex characters like Sister Amun, a Scribe Officiate, and Karis, a private examiner. Their lives are put in constant danger in the search for the truth as the wrath of the God of the Dead keeps unfolding through the rapid spread of the Undead and political plots become more untangled. As the story unfolds, Amun and Karis, two strangers from different corners of the imperium, follow a dangerous, bloody, and deceiving road that intersects when they least expect it.

What I adored in The Ember Reach by J. Gibson is how, from the beginning, the author presents detailed, complex, vivid, and at the same time visceral scenes that made my heart race and the hair on my arms stand up. For example, Karis's terrifying encounter and fight for survival with the undead woman in a red and black dress at the beginning of the book, or Amun’s similar fight for survival with Faeric. Besides the complex work done with the construction of the characters and scenery and the dual perspective, I also liked the maps found in the first pages of the book, which helped me better visualize and understand the construction of J. Gibson’s fantastic world.

Rabia Tanveer

The Ember Reach is the second book in the Planar Lost series by J. Gibson. Karis Valjyre was astounded by the living dead wreaking havoc in her city. An investigator by profession, Karis was horrified, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to know the truth. But first, she needed to reach a safe place and survive before it was too late. On the other side of the kingdom, Sister Amun Halleck faced the biggest challenge of her life. Everything she ever knew was on the brink of tumbling down. With chaos, murder, and lies dogging her every step, Amun knew she had to rethink her life choices before it was too late. Both Karis and Amun must fight against the odds and figure out what is truly happening. If they failed, they would have to pay a hefty price. But were they up for the challenge?

After reading The Blackened Yonder and falling in love with J. Gibson’s writing style, my expectations were soaring high. Usually, sequels can never live up to the first novel in a series, but this time, I was pleasantly surprised. I loved The Ember Reach more, and that surprised me. I loved Karis and her incredible character development. I loved it when she was terrified, yet she knew she had no other option but to fight. Karis wanted to know the answers, and she needed to fight for her life to get them. The reintroduction of Amun was so satisfying that I let out an audible sigh of happiness. Her journey was just as satisfying. Her development was slow yet very practical. I knew I would love her the most! The world-building is just as good, the execution of the plot is powerful, and the narrative is incredible! I am now a big fan of J. Gibson!

Frank Mutuma

The Ember Reach by J. Gibson is book two of the Planar Lost series. Horrors are happening everywhere with creatures from the distant past, phantoms, and chaos. Everyone knew of the possibility of Undeath striking, but few expected it. The Undeath has ravaged from the village of Ghora to the city of Imbredon, and in Arkala, there is talk of spiders attacking farms and stockyards. The efforts to fight the reanimates are becoming futile, leading to the deaths of many chevaliers and causing someone like Samorah to defect. Meanwhile, at the priory, a conspiracy is unfolding. The murders of archbishops Tornaeu and Crane are a big blow to stability in these troubled times. Are the magisters involved in the conspiracy and the attempted murder of the vicar?

Just like the first book in this series, The Ember Reach by J. Gibson did not disappoint, and I was hooked from the first chapter to the last. One of the things I found to be thought-provoking in this novel was the dynamics of power and the relationship between those governing and those being governed. For example, should the Ennead allow the common people more power to defend themselves? The characters were well-developed, and I loved the unique and diverse themes explored. Gibson also used suspense to great effect, which made me look forward to subsequent chapters. The excellent narration and the seamless flow of the plot added to the overall appeal of the book. I am looking forward to reading book three in this series.