The title definitely lets you know what this story is going to be about, so if you like assassins you may want to check this one out.
The main character is simply known as “The Hunter”, he’s an immortal being that works as an assassin for all sorts of clientele – the only thing that matters to The Hunter is if the client has the money. He has many lifelike masks he uses, never wanting anyone to see his real face to keep his identity a secret – and he can also adopt multiple personality types to go along with those masks. He carries something called Soulhunger, a dagger he uses while on the job and it literally takes his victim’s soul, transferring it to the blade. It’s both sentient and telepathic and mostly uses their link to beg The Hunter to kill everyone around them. The Hunter has no sense of remorse, he doesn’t feel anything but pleasure when he kills, mostly thanks to Soulhunger. After killing someone he gets a brief reprieve where Soulhunger goes dormant for a few days, and instead of enjoying the silence where he’s not constantly bombarded by the dagger begging for blood, he feels empty and alone. He would go into fits where he couldn’t sleep, or he slept all the time and still woke up exhausted. It seems that while Soulhunger sleeps, so do his powers. He has extremely shakey and disjointed memories of his life before he came to the city of Voramis, he doesn’t remember his real name, doesn’t know where he came from, and doesn’t know how he came to have Soulhunger. It’s been so long though he doesn’t care anymore, he’s lived in Voramis for hundreds of years and has given up on trying to discover his past.
The first half of the book focuses on what The Hunter’s daily life is like, how he takes jobs and gets new clients etc. He gets into a lot of sticky situations, one of which almost killing him. He gets on the wrong side of the Bloody Hand, which is a group of 5 people who run most of Voramis. They don’t like the fact that The Hunter is working in their territory and want him gone. The Hunter is immortal and this was put to the test when he was captured by the Bloody Hand, they spent a lot of time slicing and dicing him, even stabbing him in the heart to see if there was a way to kill him. He manages to escape and then falls into the hands of a priest of the Beggar God. This is about 50% through the book and where things pick up. The priest knows much more about The Hunter’s life and backstory than he does, he knows where he lives, what he’s done with his life, who he was before his memory went blank etc. I won’t go into that since it’s spoilery – but it’s revealed that this priest works for a group that helps keep the demons out of Einan. The Gods once went to war, and they called demons from other realms to help fight in their wars, it left humans devastated and a few demons stayed on Einan after the wars. The priest belongs to an order that makes sure the banished demons don’t make it back to Einan and he needs The Hunter’s help to keep them at bay.
The Hunter is a very grey character, more anti-hero than a villain but it could be argued either way. Although he doesn’t feel remorse when he kills, he does mostly kill assholes, and there are people he feels a need to protect and keep safe. He has lines he won’t cross, he doesn’t approve of the slave trade or sexual assault, so it’s clear he has at least some baseline of common morals but in other areas, he’s far from what you’d call a good person. It took me a while to warm up to this guy though, in the beginning of the book I was worried about what kind of depth could be achieved with the way the story was going, but there were glimpses of layers under the psychotic serial killer persona. The Hunter lives in an abandoned building surrounded by the homeless and beggars, he deliberately makes his home unattractive to people so no one comes in. He says he hates every single human around him, but he contradicts himself by watching after the homeless, he sees himself as their protector and although he doesn’t interact with them, he likes the company. He went so far as to leave them bundles of food & clothing and he tried to find medicine for a sick old lady. He has a lot of contrasting character traits that may or may not work for you – they mostly worked for me.
This was a pretty dark book, the character does a lot of objectionable things, a lot of people die, there are demons and torture scenes. If you’re not a fan of grimdark I wouldn’t read this book.
This was extremely fast paced, there was almost always something going on. For some people, it may be a little too fast-paced, maybe a little rushed in a few places but nothing that was so rushed I was left feeling confused. Many things were spelled out for the reader, particularly when we were introduced to this priest who knew everything about the character, so there was a bit of info dumping in those scenes. The writing style was pretty straightforward, it was told in the third person mostly from a single POV. There are minor POV’s throughout the book, but many times those characters meet up with The Hunter so it’s all related and easy to follow. There isn’t a ton of cursing in this, there were only two fucks through the whole book – so if you’re okay with light cursing, this is that.
I definitely see the appeal in this book, it’s done very well for itself over on Goodreads with a 4.11 average with ~450 ratings. It took me a while to get into though, as the first 30 – 40% or so didn’t catch me, but I’ll also point out I’m not typically one for darker characters. However, I wanted to read all my books front to back and I’m glad I kept going because I got more into it as the layers of the main character were pulled back a bit.
For people who like:
- sentient weapons
- mysterious magic
- darker tone
- grey/anti hero characters
- mystic/ancient orders
- nonhuman pov’s
- Plot: 11/15
- Characters: 12.75/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 10.5/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 6.25/10
Final Score: 75/100 or 3.75/5 on Goodreads