Book Review: The Writer and the Throne by Caleb Ortega

I don’t know why, but considering the fact that literally every book I’ve ever read has been written by a writer (no duh, right?) there seems to be a dearth of proper writer characters in said books. Occasionally, I will come across a scribe in an epic fantasy, or a romance novel has a romance writer as the main character, but that’s about it. The writing never seems to be a big part of the story. And frankly, given that writers write the books, this confuses me. So when I saw that Caleb Ortega’s book actually had writer in the title, I was very eager to see a writer come to life on the page. Thus: The Writer and the Throne by Caleb Ortega.

1. Thoughts on the plot

This book follows Aaron, who has been brought to the realm of the gods by the Most High so that he can write and record the events following a meeting. Aaron has to go around and observe the events between the Olympians (or Immortals) led by Zeus, the Asgardians led by Thor, and the Duati, led by Osiris as they vie for power or peace  and determine the fate of their realm. 

A good portion of this book is taken up with discussions of politics, secret meetings, planning and scheming and eventually battle. All of this is perfectly fine, and even expected in epic fantasy/military fantasy stories. I fully expected the scheming and politics and all of that, so hurrah! However, I was a little disappointed to see that the writer did not seem to have a plot-central role; Aaron is journeying to discover the truth, but he is to observe only. His role becomes more plot central in the last ten percent of the book or so, but I would like a little more prior to that. Still, I think the plot worked out decently well.

2. Thoughts on the characters

One of the problems that often occurs while writing about such familiar characters as gods known on earth in various mythologies or active religions is that their personalities are already well established and people know a great deal about them before even opening the first page of the book. I think this book did a decent job in explaining how those preconceived notions were not following expectations. This gave the author a fair amount of wiggle room with the personalities and actions of familiar figures, lending the story the ability to twist and turn in unexpected ways. In general, I think this worked well. There were a couple of spots where characters were so far off the expectation that it fell a little flat, but they were relatively minor.

As far as Aaron goes, I liked him overall. I think, being the main character mentioned in the blurb, that he could have had a larger role. We really only got to get to know him and his ideas, thoughts, personality, later on in the book. Now, when we did get to know him, I liked him quite a bit, but up until that point, he felt rather minor.

3. Favourite part

I think my favourite part were the bits that dealt with Sjofn. She was a relatively minor character, but I think she stood apart from the other characters in the story and I really enjoyed reading about her exploits and ideas and way of life. 

4. Critique

My only real critique for this book is that Aaron did play such a relatively small role. In theory, his purpose was incredibly important, but it was dealt with in such a minor way that he became almost negligible until the last ten percent or so of the book. Now, there is going to be a sequel, and I think he will become much more important there, but given how much significance was placed upon Aaron in the description of the book, I expected to see more of him.

Overall, I think The Writer and the Throne was a good epic/military fantasy book. There was intelligent scheming, enough politics to intrigue, and a battle that was described quite well. As a book featuring a writer, I think this one was similar to other books I have read that feature a writer; good, but the actual writing was a minor plot point. Still, I look forwards to the sequel!