The Trials of Koli by M.R. Carey #BookReview #BlogTour


Koli has been cast from his village and into the strange and deadly forest beyond. But he heard a story, once. A story about lost London, and the mysterious tech of the old times that was there. And if Koli can find it, there may be a way for him to redeem himself – by saving what’s left of humanity.

It's my pleasure to be closing the blog tour for The Trials of Koli today. Many thanks to M.R. Carey, Orbit Books and Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel, received through Netgalley.

The Trials of Koli is the second book in M.R. Carey's Rampart Trilogy and having loved The Book of Koli earlier this year, I was excited to immerse myself in this perilous post-apocalyptic world once again. This time the narrative is shared between Koli, who is now on the road and his childhood friend, Spinner, through whom we see what is happening in his village, Mythen Rood.
The events here occur immediately after the first novel and I really would recommend reading the trilogy in order to truly appreciate the story as it is meant to be told. Koli's voice is as strong and engaging as it was previously; grammar pedants may shudder but the natural flow of his words captures the essence of a tale being repeated and recognises that language changes just as surely as the environment. And that environment has definitely adapted in the years that have passed since our time. This is a world where almost anything is ready to kill the unprepared, unwary or just plain unlucky. Once humankind believed they had harnessed and manipulated natural resources to bend to their needs but now that landscape is a constant danger to the few humans left. 
Though a gripping fantasy novel, The Trials of Koli also feels like a warning; this is a world brought to its knees thanks to the greed and arrogance of mankind. There wasn't just one catastrophic event that led to this point, however, and instead we see what unchecked climate change and constant fighting over limited resources - the Unfinished War - eventually leads to. Where before societies developed and fought over technological wizardry, now the few items of tech still working are jealously guarded - and ironically still the cause for bloodshed among foes and even supposed friends.
The chapters following Koli expand this strange world still further as he and his companions, Ursala, Cup and Monono, the AI Dreamsleeve he woke in the first book journey south though an inhospitable, yet eerily recognisable wasteland. Thrown together through circumstances, the bond between them steadily grows, though not without trouble. While Koli is a natural peacemaker, his three co-travellers don't trust one another and their discussions are often decidedly volatile. As they head for London, they encounter a number of dangerous situations before eventually reaching a point where they are forced to stay put for a while. Here they become part of a community once again and although The Trials of Koli often offers a stark look at human behaviour, there are moments of decency, kindness and hope too. Cup is a particularly wonderful character; the youngest of the group, she is transgender - described here as crossed - and having been cast out of her village then joining a messianic cult, she is finally accepted by this group and the scenes where they discuss helping her avoid going through what would be distressing puberty changes are truly touching.
Life is hardly more settled in Mythen Rood following Koli's sudden departure but the shock that lingers is quickly usurped by a frightening reminder from the past. The parts of the story told from Spinner's perspective add another dimension to the proceedings and her chapters are equally as compelling and exciting as Koli's. She begins by acknowledging her ambition and her plan to marry Haijon, in order to become part of the ruling Vennastin family but it quickly becomes apparent that she is a resolute and honourable as her old friend when she is thrust into a situation which not only changes her understanding of how Mythen Rood and the tech-holding Ramparts are manipulated but also sets her on a path which suggests even greater change is ahead.
The Trials of Koli is a captivating novel where the emotional impact is as rich as the magnificent world-building.  Strange yet familiar, terrifying yet empathetic; this strange, unsettling and entirely believable tale is utterly enthralling. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Trials of Koli is published by Orbit Books, publishing links can be found here but please consider supporting independent bookstores whenever possible.

Details of the previous blog tour posts can be found below.

About the Author

M. R. Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts has sold over a million copies and became a major motion picture, based on his own BAFTA Award-nominated screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on Lucifer, Hellblazer and X-Men. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times bestseller list. He also has several previous novels including the Felix Castor series (written as Mike Carey), two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.