I picked this one up for spfbo, it was a cover finalist (it does have a nice cover), and it’s currently been eliminated by Pornokitsch.
The book opens with a scene where one of the main characters is being bullied and was almost killed by one of the main antagonists of the story. The main character, Hemlock, later grows into a necromancer on a mission to learn as much as he can about lost magics, forbidden magics, and for power people haven’t had in centuries.
In this world magic can’t be used without some kind of focus, some kind of buffer if you will between magic and the person, you can burn yourself out and kill yourself trying to use magic without first going through a god, or some kind of magical object. Hemlock stars using his spellbooks/grimoires as a focus point for his spells so he doesn’t have to go through the gods for his power.
The Lord of Light is what most mages of this world use as their focus point for their casting, but both main characters have bones to pick with this god.
The plot mostly focuses on finding and figuring out how to use ancient books, some of which are guarded by undead High Kings, just because the character finds the book doesn’t necessarily mean he can use it, so a lot of the plot is also focused around figuring out how to get the ancient texts to reveal their secrets. Hemlock has been warned by a High King that the knowledge he’s seeking can unleash an evil he can’t control, but he presses on heedlessly.
A lot of Hemlocks spells and power come from dark places, the things he’s done haunt him a bit, but not too much which makes for a very grey outlook on morals.
Final Score: 7/10
- Hemlock – the main character of the story, a necromancer who’s done some pretty terrible things to get the power he’s already got, and is willing to do even more killing to get to where he wants to be
- Melgana – the daughter of a king, and Hemlocks best friend turned lover. She’s brutal, she does the majority of the killing in the book with an axe known as Torment. She’s killed family and friends along the way to help Hemlock on his journey. These two are romantically involved but there’s not much of the stereotypical kind of romance here. They didn’t start out hating each other, they started out as friends, and they don’t fight and bicker and get into drama, that was nice, that kind of shit is a pet peeve of mine
- Scarrow – one of the main antagonists in the book. Meglana can’t stand him and her father tried to betroth her to him and she flips out. He’s really not a nice person and you can’t blame either Hemlock or Melgana for wanting nothing to do with him
Final Score: 6.5/10
So this world goes back a long way, the city you start out in had been built and rebuilt over the millenia by Vampire lords and humans alike. This world is rather grim with a lot of dark shit going on, and a lot of violence. The king is named Gerek and he commands an army called The Black Blades. There’s not a ton of countries and civil war thing going on, it’s not that kind of world building, it’s more creating an atmosphere that’s dark and grim.
Final Score: 8/10
The book is super quick, there’s a lot going on and it’s not that long, it’s about 219 pages so I read it in a few hours. The prose are utilitarian and move the story along, however there are a bunch of editing problems, mostly overused words. I think with an editor this book could have come out cleaner fixing some grammar and spelling problems.
Pacing Final Score: 9/10
Writing Final Score: 5.5/10
This book took the undead and dark magic to new places, I enjoyed the originality of it.
Final Score: 8/10
- People who like a lot of violence
- People who like undead, vampires, necromancers
- People who like romance without bickering
- People who like very grey characters
- People who like a lot of battles and hack and slash
- People who don’t like cursing should pass – fuck was used 151 times