The world as you’ve never seen it before: This book is set on an Earth twisted and ravaged by an apocalyptic event known as The Black. While not much is known about how this event occurred, or why, it appears to have merged at least one other world with our own. Monsters far scarier than anything you might’ve imagined under your bed now share our world, and probably would’ve annihilated the human race if some members hadn’t acquired an ability to use magic.
It laughs in the face of your zombie apocalypse: Numerous races of Undead creatures appeared after The Black and they are badass in the extreme. They don’t just have sharp claws and pointy teeth, they have steam powered nail guns, war machines, and arcane grenades. Some, like the barbarian Gorgoloth and the monstrous Sorn , are entirely original as far as I can tell.
It’s a war zone: The cities are festooned with magical protection in the form of hex wire, sandbags of blessed soil, crosses, and voodoo paraphernalia. There are also flame cannons mounted on the walls, sentries armed with assault rifles, and nobody ever really strips off their armour. Nearly all the races use a combination of guns and magic. The main characters are all soldiers, and while they aren’t fighting all the time, it’s gruesome when they do. It’s realistic too, to a point where just reading it is mildly traumatic at times.
Your influences are showing: The author’s bio mentions that he’s written adventures for Dungeons and Dragons, and it explained a lot to me. The descriptions of this terrifying and strange new world are both vivid and poetic, and no character makes it to the end unscathed. Many of them don’t make it at all. Nothing is certain except that everything can get worse.
What I didn’t like:
What the…: I didn’t know what was going on at first, except that it was dark and eerie. It’s the tone and descriptions that kept me reading. Somewhere between chapters two and three, I settled in and signed up for the ride.
Reminders: By this I mean the strategic repetition of a description or relevant piece of information. This is never my friend. When I read a book slowly, they’re never where I need them, and I when I read fast, they seem to be everywhere. This book wasn’t so bad in that regard, although I did find it a bit weird that one character’s appearance was rehashed in two consecutive chapters.
This book is a raw emotional journey through a vivid and disturbing landscape. It takes a while before the main plot is set in motion, but intrigue remains steady from start to finish. Although the violence isn’t gratuitous, and the vaguely PTSD-like mental state of the central character is realistic and understandable, it’s probably not a story for the faint of heart.
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