This is the third book and also the conclusion to the Manhunter’s series!
These events are set a few years after the conclusion of book two. Rayph and crew are outside of the Crown, an enormous castle-like building where his friend, Cosmo, is being held as a prisoner. Rayph is super pissed, he ends up killing a good deal of soldiers making his way in to rescue Cosmo and doesn’t seem to care how many people he needs to kill. The Crown has magic dampening powers that make it more difficult to cast spells, especially the more powerful ones. It would appear as though he could be at a disadvantage due to the dampening but still manages to outsmart the villains using portals as part of his rescue. Cosmo is in bad shape, he went insane after a spell gone wrong. The spell was supposed to turn him into something like a god and he spent his entire life working on it, only for it to go awry. After he cast the spell he was able to read other peoples minds, at first it seemed like a boon. But, after being left alone for too many years he lost himself, his mind has been muddied with the memories of other people, some of them are horrible people who leave him with visions of terrible crimes. He’s still cogent enough to talk to Rayph, however, and warns him that the Stain is back, that there is a new master at the helm, and he’s worse than ever before, an entity known as the Terror, the Mind.
Rayph later finds out that people are coming back to life, raised from the dead by Chaos, and long vanquished foes are rising again. This time it’s worse than before. Some of them are resurrecting younger than they had been when they initially died. They are left with the memories and knowledge of their past lives, but with the recklessness and wildness of youth making them hard to predict. Rayph needs to travel to the city of Dragonsbane and end his old foes before they gain too much power. He also needs to decide if he’s going to free his friend, the soul trapped in his dagger, the only constant companion he’s had over these past 10,000 years. The twin to his dagger has also been found, and both of the brothers could be set free if Rayph can get the right band of people together to do it.
Like in the last books the magic in this remains mysterious. Rayph is able to conjure giant hounds made of stone, explode people’s flesh off their bodies, fly, make portals etc. This is a super high fantasy with about as many fantasy elements as can possibly be shoved into a book. It makes for a lot of fun and some seriously awesome battle scenes. I particularly like the giant stone dog. This book continues on with the immense time scales, the Crown, for instance, was built over 100,000 years ago and although still standing it’s is in serious disrepair.
There are a lot of side characters, and although I recognized most of their names and knew who they were, it’s been a while since I read the last installment so I could have used a refresher for a few characters. A glossary or something would be useful with a book this complex with this many characters.
It didn’t come as a surprise that this book keeps in line with the darker tones of the previous books, one woman loses the bottom half of her jaw, someone tore it off and kept it as a souvenir. Other characters get stabbed, impaled, skin torn off, hands and feet chopped off and are psychologically tortured. If you’ve made it this far into the series however, grimdark is probably your thing.
I did catch a few editing errors, missing commas and things of that sort, nothing so glaring or frequent that it took any enjoyment away. I also want to note that this was an ARC copy, I’m extremely late doing the review and so these errors may well have been corrected by now.
I thought things were coming to close and that it was going to have a tidy wrap up at the end. But, in the epilogue on the last page, events took a turn and there was an explosion of a moon, eluding to events to come. I’m not sure if that means the series is continuing on with a different trilogy, or maybe another series set in the same world – or if this is just a way to end the series on a cyclical note, assuring that Rayph never gets to fully go into retirement and gets the rest he so desperately needs.
Overall I thought this was a solid grimdark series, I’m glad I read them, and at some point later on this year I’ll pick up something else by him once my review backlog is less foreboding.
- Plot: 12/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World Building: 13/15
- Writing: 12/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
Final Score: 79/100 – 4 stars, recommended for grimdark fans!