I’ll start this review off by saying this is a really, really long book. It’s 829 pages on ebook, so it’s going to be hard to keep this review short. Prepare yourselves for a long ass review.
Dray is a veteran soldier of the Royal Army, he’s earned the rank of Lieutenant after years of proving himself on the battlefield. He’s earned a reputation for being one of the most lethal soldiers in the army and in turn, he’s been rewarded with a few privileges including a room to his own. It’s a sparsely decorated room with not much in it, but at least it’s his. He’s woken up by a loud ruckus going on in the hallway outside his room, he figures it’s just the guys getting rowdy but when he opens his door he finds that there are bodies everywhere. Grey-green monsters are taking over the building and leaving people torn apart everywhere, Dray has to hack his way to one of the only survivors an old commander tells him to hold his hand out and accept a ring… cryptically adding that “If I’m wrong, I’m sorry”. Implying the ring could be dangerous if the commander has picked the wrong person to wear it.
After wearing the ring and not dying because of it, Dray has been instructed to keep the Oracle safe at all costs. It’s not going to be an easy task because the demon horde is growing and there’s only 1 of Dray. In an act of desperation, with a power he didn’t know he had, he fended off the horde temporarily by creating a wall of ice between himself and the demons and leaps out the window with the Oracle. He puts himself on the bottom knowing that this was a suicide jump, and hopes that he buffers the Oracles fall enough so she can get away. He lands as is broken and should be dead, but the Oracle commands him to get up, and he is willed to his feet by magic.
The onslaught continues, the Oracle is injured, and Dray tries his best to reach the healing temple of Kara, however, he collapses near it before he can actually enter. When he awakes he’s in the temple and things go from ‘pretty great’ from Dray’s perspective to horror fairly quickly. After being healed he’s subjected to questioning, the priestess’s of Kara don’t believe Dray when he says the ring gave him powers. They believe the only way a man so broken could carry an injured woman across a city filled with demons, is if he’s cooperating with, or is, in fact, a demon himself – both he and the Oracle have been imprisoned and tortured.
The story also follows two brothers, one of whom, Aiden, goes out in search of a boar to hunt but instead stumbles upon a noble family that’s been taken hostage for ransom. He wants to rescue them, ends up killing a bunch of them, only to find a girl being held in a tent. She’s taken a potion that puts her into a trance, and the last bandit left is inside the tent trying to protect “what’s his”. The family after being rescued wants Aiden to go into the big city with them where he can offer his defensive services and actually get paid to do it. Aiden kind of falls for one of the girls he rescued, Lana, and is probably going to take them up on the offer. The King is calling for armed men to help fight the onslaught of demons and is rewarding those who fight with riches he can only dream about.
General Vuko Vlad is not human, and he regrets being part of the decision to keep humans alive many years ago, he didn’t argue with them when the decision was made because he didn’t want to go to war with the other clans. Now, however, he’s plotting to correct that “mistake”. Vuko is the clear antagonist in this, and there really isn’t much redeeming about him. His mindset on people who disagree with him are, “Enemies can’t think when they’re dead”. The new Gods are favoring the humans, but he knows that the Old Gods of the night and darkness still exist, and still favor his kind. He’s even more irate that his kind, the Drakour, have been cut off from their God ever since the humans entombed their priest-king, dubbing the era “The Time of Darkness”. He has an assistant, Katra, who is trying her best to raise their dead King to bring about a new revolution, where humans will be the ones who are hunted down for a change. When they try and raise the King however, theory find out that there’s one last barrier standing in the way, and it was put down by the Oracle of Tempus, and only with her can they break the barrier and release the dead king.
This is a long ass book, it’s 829 pages and by far the longest book I had for the SPFBO competition. The POV switches take a while, and this is partly good and partly problematic because it can be jarring to get 80 pages into something and get a new POV. But, it does let you sink your teeth into the storyline happening around each character so it’s less of a whirlwind trying to figure out who all the characters are before the next switch. You don’t really get a sense of how all the characters are related and come together until about 20% in, which is pretty standard, but because of the length that’s 160+pages into the book, so it takes a while to get there. This probably could have been shortened, particularly how we’re introduced to Aiden, there are some intro scenes that could have been cut down to get to the meat of his arc faster.
As far as the writing itself, it’s pretty straightforward prose that gets out of the way of the story. There’s a lot of cursing in this one too, so if you’re not a fan of the word fuck, I’d pass. 82 fucks given! There were some repeated words and phrases, and in particular, there was one phrase that was repeated 9-10 times, “Bright lights sizzled across the surface of Dray’s eyes like azure lightning bolts, his right hand turned ice blue and burned life fire”. After reading that exact phrase more than half a dozen times it started to get tiresome.
As far as my personal enjoyment, this book was kind of all over the place for me. However, there were some other things that just didn’t work well for me. There was a scene where Dray wakes up after being badly injured, along with the Oracle. They are on separate slabs in a healing temple, and when he wakes up they’re both naked. There are two attendants, one starts slathering the Oracle in oil while she’s naked, really taking her time with her breasts…. the other is jerking off Dray. That whole scene was a nope for me, most importantly because the Oracle isn’t conscious. There were some really neat aspects to it, especially the world building with the different ranks of demons and their goal to wipe out the humans and reclaim the planet.
- Epic stories
- darker/grimmer tone
- lots of violence
- demons, elves, dead gods
- multi pov
- non human pov
- villain pov
- Plot: 11.5/15
- Characters: 10/15
- World Building: 13/15
- Writing: 8/15
- Pacing: 8/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 5.5/10
Final Score: 67/100