The Waking World (The Future King #1) – Tom Huddleston

“They called it the Moon of the Wolf. It was rising now, over the crest of the ridge beyond the river, gleaming silver-grey through a fast-closing gap in the clouds. The third new moon after Exmus, the dying days of winter. The most treacherous time of all.”

Aran is the second son of a wealthy Law, and his future is mapped out in front of him. The Marauders have raided the cost for years and many, especially those at Hawk’s Cross Aran’s fathers homestead, do not see them as a threat. However now they’re growing bolder and coming further inland. Yet Aran’s father still doesn’t want Aran learning how to fight, he is meant to be the brains behind the homestead and leave his older brother to be the fighter. However that all changes when Aran meets a mysterious stranger and some of the things he learns about the life he knows suddenly no longer make sense. Can Aran discover the truth and will it help him turn back the Marauder tide before its too late? 

***
With a Game of Thrones for teens kinda feel I really did enjoy The Waking World and couldn’t get enough of the ingenuity behind the story, it blew me away and there wasn’t a chapter in the book where I wasn’t begging to know what happened next.
With twists and turns the story takes a little while to really build up into something special, but when it does; its good. For quite a while at the beginning of the book I thought Aran was a little childish and even a bit selfish, however once Peregrine joined the book I was hooked and I loved where it went from there. I really didn’t see a couple of things coming (which would be spoilers if I shared) and I thought they were really well done especially as it’s likely I would have thought this book wasn’t for me if I knew about them beforehand. 
The characters are really well done but at the same time they are the reason I only rated this book a 3.5 out of 5 on Goodreads. Basically I thought the story took a bit too long to really build up its characters, there wasn’t much substance to them early on and the only ones that really stood out were Peregrine and the old man who turns up in the night where Aran and Cas are early on. Once they started to develop they were great though and I loved Aran’s spirit and Cas’ brains. Mohanna was a brilliant character from the start but then she dipped and really this is what I really didn’t like about the book. 
Mohanna was one of the only female characters and the only one with more than a line of focus on one page. I really loved her when we first met her and I really wanted her to be the person I thought she was. However there were time when she was so submissive it really wound me up and the fact that she was the only female character did too. Something comes to light in the book about its setting that I really can’t go into without spoiling it, but it made me rage even more about the treatment of women in this world and I really hated that it was only men who went to war and that had the power after learning about that one thing. I know that Mohanna even stayed strong when there was a lot of stuff going on and part of her weakness was probably because of the person treating her harshly so I can’t put all the focus on her, lets just say if this book was a movie it would not pass the Bechdel Test
However even with the above rant, I enjoyed this book and its obviously the first in the sequel so hopefully the ones to come will be fairer towards women and feature them more heavily. I think Tom Huddleston really is an author to watch out for and you could see that he’d done his research into various things that were covered in this book, things that I want you readers to discover yourself! 
The Waking World will be published on 3rd October by David Fickling Books. My copy was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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  • Ugh, I hate it when books/movies are dominated by male characters. This doesn’t really sound like my sort of thing, but thanks for the review!

  • Hi Raimy, thanks for this review, it’s terrific and I take your criticisms on board. However, I really don’t want you to think that I didn’t consider the female perspective. I’m from old-school feminist stock (my mother was a Greenham Common woman) and I definitely wrestled with this aspect of the story. But in the end I felt it was more powerful – and more real – if we could see that Mohanna was a strong, independent girl, but that her relationship with her father prevented her from being the person she was trying to be. He’s simply too dominant a force in her life. This comes directly from personal experience – I’ve known women who were incredibly brave and strong but who were emotionally manipulated by powerful (often male) figures. I thought this was a more interesting journey to take Mohanna on: only towards the end does she manage to stand up for herself, truly and completely. Perhaps that scene could’ve been more forceful – I’m not about to pretend the book is perfect!

    At the risk of going overboard answering your criticisms, I don’t think it’s fair to say Mohanna is the only central female character. Lady Carifax is the smartest person in the story, it’s just that she chooses, in a male dominated society, to step back and let her ‘frontman’, the Law, look like he’s making all the decisions. I think this has historical precedent.

    I really do take your criticisms on board, though. As a film critic I hate to have the Bechdel Test used against me!

    If you’d like to continue this discussion feel free to ask Charlotte Portman for my email address. It’s a matter close to my heart and I’d definitely like to get your thoughts on it. I think it’s very easy for a writer to pay lip service to feminist ideas by simply writing strong female characters who stomp about getting into fights, but for me it was much more interesting to depict characters whose inner strength was clear to see, but was stifled by their upbringing and their society. I hope this makes sense. If not, tell me!

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  • I don’t want the above comment to imply that I think it’s only women who are manipulated by dominant figures. It happens to all of us. It’s just that it worked in the context of this particular story.

  • I really like the sound of this Raimy as a GOT fan! Definitely on the ‘to read’ pile 🙂

  • I found your review to be quite interesting … and also that the author has chosen to respond to your comments as well!

    I’m not sure what to make of the book as yet, but I’m intrigued. I think if I have the opportunity again to read the book, I might give it a chance..