A Delightful High Fantasy Novel with Great Characters

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The Afterward is the newest novel out by E.K. Johnston, and it is everything I didn’t know I was looking for in a book. That sounds dramatic but bear with me here. I knew I was going to love the novel, based on how much I loved Johnston’s work with Ahsoka, so I didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance to read this. However, I wasn’t expecting just how much this novel would end up meaning to me.
Have you ever been in a bit of a reading funk, but you didn’t really realize it until you found a novel that utterly consumed you? That’s what it was like for me. I hadn’t realized that I was craving something like it until I read it, but man am I glad that I took the time to do so!
The Afterward is a standalone novel. The characters within are all so unique and memorable, that it took no time at all for me to become attached to all of them. Admittedly that makes me sort of wish it wasn’t a standalone novel, but hey, you never know.
The Afterward was a perfect storm of well-written characters, an intriguing plot, and brilliant storytelling techniques. Everything about it made me anxious to turn the pages and see what happened next. I enjoyed the time spent reading this novel, as I found it both fun and relaxing.
The characters were one of the big highlights for me. There were several of them, though admittedly a couple of them got more attention than the rest. Despite their numbers though, all of the characters were unique and memorable. Most were stubborn, determined, driven, or otherwise knew exactly what they wanted out of life.
Did I mention that most of the characters were female, and many of them were even knights? The best part about this was that it wasn’t a big deal. Female knights were just a thing in this world. How amazing is that???
The characters are all different enough, and full of enough personality to allow for a favorite for most people. I won’t say who my favorite was (but I sorely want to), but I will say that even though I had my favorites I did find myself feeling fondness towards most of the characters at one point or another. They were all very well written.
The story itself switches back and forth between an even in the past and the present. It also switches perspectives between two of the characters; Olsa and Kalanthe. These frequent changes helped to move the plot along rapidly, while also keeping the air of intrigue going for as long as possible. It had other advantages as well, but I’d probably be here all day if I tried to list them all out.
For obvious reasons, I don’t want to speak too much about the conclusion. I will say that I normally don’t like conclusions like this one…but it was oddly well suited here. I feel like everything that happened after the final conflict made sense, and in many ways was deserved.
I’m so happy that I spotted The Afterward and took the time to read it. It’s probably too early in the year to comment on if it’d make any of my theoretical lists, but I’d like to think that it would. Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing what E.K. Johnston comes out with next.