The Trials of Koli by M. R. Carey – A Book Review

Trials of koli


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.

Author: M. R. Carey

Genre: Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian

Pages: 480

Series: The Rampart Trilogy #2

Release Date: 17/09/2020

Publisher: Orbit

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ‘The Trials of Koli’: 5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon USAudible UKAudible US


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Trials of Koli is the second book in the Rampart trilogy and follows on from the events in the first book, as you’d expect. What you’d perhaps not expect is that, despite it being a first person narrative written by Koli, half of this book is a first person narrative written by Spinner. At no point does it give an explanation as to why Spinner is writing in a book supposedly written by Koli (I’m assuming the author doesn’t want to give away a spoiler that the two characters will eventually meet back up … but just by virtue of them sharing the page space equally he kind of implies that).

Spinner was the character that I didn’t think I necessarily needed. As it turns out, she was the character we all absolutely needed. To start with, I found her quite hard to like what with how her character is, but I soon found myself loving her sections. It answers so many questions that Koli can only dream at. What did Spinner truly think of him? What happened in Mythen Rood after he had been cast out? Will the Ramparts’ stranglehold on power continue unchallenged?

Spinner’s parts add great depth to The Trials of Koli, depth that, were it not there, would kind of make the naming of the trilogy sort of pointless. With her being there, though, we are given a pretty complete look at the world and the happenings within it. The people of Mythen Rood continue to be vibrant characters rather than just footnotes in Koli’s memory. It really helps to give a sense that the rest of the world is truly moving with Koli rather than just being a series of events that had happened to him.

Other characters such as Cup, Ursala and, even Koli have been fleshed out in far greater detail. Although it’s first person, Koli tells it more from the viewpoint of a chronicler rather than from his being the focal point of everything that is happening. Due to this we get so much more depth and discovery where other characters are concerned. In that way, it’s truly unlike most first person narratives I have read.

I love the world that Carey has created. It’s a unique blend of deadly flora, resilient fauna and populated by a people who have only very recently seemingly crawled out of the most recent Dark Age. Everything from intelligence to basic understandings of technologies we take for granted have been hampered. The people of this new world are a people whose only goal is to survive in a land that wants nothing more than for them to die.

Carey’s style of writing reflects that, told as it is in the distinctive, almost uneducated way that his characters talk. On occasion certain correct pronunciations mentioned by other characters make it into to Koli’s narrative which, like in the first book, begs the question as to why he can’t either get it right all the time or simply write it how he would normally … but I digress. That’s only a minor drawback and not one that really impacts on my enjoyment. It is, however, one failing of the first person approach.

The first book in the series was an enjoyable read that had me wanting more the moment I put it down. This book is by far the better book of the two and has me absolutely devastated that the third book will be the final one. 

If things continue in this trend of the current book being great where the previous book was good, I can’t imagine how wonderful book three could be.

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