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The Wall by Gautam Bhatia #BookReview

Mithila’s world is bound by a Wall enclosing the city of Sumer—nobody goes out, nothing comes in. The days pass as they have for two thousand years: just enough to eat for just enough people, living by the rules. Within the city, everyone knows their place.

But when Mithila tries to cross the Wall, every power in Sumer comes together to stop her. To break the rules is to risk all of civilization collapsing. But to follow them is to never know: who built the Wall? Why? And what would the world look like if it didn’t exist?

As Mithila and her friends search for the truth, they must risk losing their families, the ones they love, and even their lives. Is a world they can’t imagine worth the only world they have?

For fans of Isaac Asimov’s Nightfall and Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed comes an astonishingly powerful voice in speculative fiction that explores what it means to truly be free.

The Wall (Sumer, #1)

Title: The Wall | Series: Sumer #1 | Author: Gautam Bhatia | Pub. Date: 2020-8-13 | Publisher: HarperCollins India | Pages: 420 | ISBN13: 9789353578350 | Language: English | Unstarred Review | Source: We received a copy from the author for review consideration

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The Wall Review

I do not fit into the demographic that The Wall is aimed for. Recognizing that, I am still going to do my best to give it as objective of a review as possible.

This was not your typical white/English fantasy. It immediately felt different, though some of the concepts are obviously the same. That was lovely. The layout of the city (in Mandala circles) was neat to try to imagine, though I’m not entirely sure I had it right in my head sometimes.

The world-building really is just lovely. Bhatia has a way of building an area up in your head in just a few sentences. Even a single line inferring the that the city was built upon an older version of the same city can do so much. The Garuda were very neat. I looked them up because I wanted a clearer vision in my head, and was glad I did so.

There were snippets of song/poetry throughout The Wall, and they were simple but beautiful. I could almost hear them sung in my head. I’ve quoted the first one below.

Who sees above an endless ground

The sun upon a farther shore

Who sees the sky unwalled, unbound

Will live in dreams forevermore..

The Wall by Gautam Bhatia

In general, Bhatia’s prose is gorgeous without crossing the line to purple.

Also, shout out for the female MC *and* same sex love interests!

I do not hide the fact that I’m an atheist, so I’ve got to admit that there was one passage in The Wall that SPOKE to me.

“How many truths can exist together?” And they chose a truth–the truth of Malan–they wrote it down, and they called it the Black Book. And then they said, the Word is in the Book, the Word is written, and because it cannot be changed or altered, it must be true.”

The Wall by Gautam Bhatia

Now, there were some things in The Wall I had problems with that I don’t think were subjective. The main one being that there were a ton of characters with similar names and it could get confusing trying to remember who was who. For example, there was: Mithila, Malata, Minashki, Moares, and Mankala. General rule of thumb is not to do this because it can confuse readers and yep, it sure did. Bhatia does try to help this by giving us a character list we can reference, but that’s not the easiest thing to do in a e-book.

There was a lot of information thrown at us almost immediately and thus it was a little hard to get engaged in the text. This combined with the aforementioned naming issue could make it difficult to keep up with what is going on.

I can’t objectively note the pacing because, as I mentioned previously, I was not the target reader and this colored my perception of the book.

Switching back to the positive, the ending was lovely. Bhatia did a good job communicating the way the MC was torn with a choice that had to have felt almost impossible for her.

Basically, for fans of fantasy that are looking for something outside your Tolkein and Martin stuff, it would be worthwhile to check The Wall out. It has a lot of positive reviews from people who are fans of fantasy when I check out the Goodreads page, so I’m very much inclined to believe that this is, indeed, a me problem and not a book problem.

 You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. You can find it on Goodreads and at Storygraph.

Published inFantasy Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews

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