Free The Darkness by Kel Kade

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I picked this up because the narrator, Nick Podehl, is one of my favorite audiobook performers. I had heard about this book a long time ago, it’s a well-recognized title on r/fantasy so I decided to give it a go without looking at a blurb or any friend reviews.

I got a mixed bag. There were aspects I enjoyed and others that eventually turned me off. This was a DNF, unfortunately. I think the main reason would be the overpowered MC who intimidates everyone into submission and/or kills them with such ease it breaks the moment for me. He’s faster than everyone else. He’s better trained. He’s smarter. It doesn’t matter who he’s up against, there’s no struggle. He’s in a different league than anyone else in the world (at least up to the point I read) and I just couldn’t attach myself to the overall story because of it.

Rezkin was raised in solitude away from what he calls “the outworld”, imagine being locked in a sadistic training school for your entire life and then tasting freedom for the first time at nineteen years old. Brainwashing was essential to his training. His character almost reads like an automaton since he wasn’t allowed to develop friendships, display weakness or feelings of any kind during his childhood. He follows directions he’s been given completely literally, even if he doesn’t totally understand the implications or reasonings. One of the hundreds of rules he’s been indoctrinated to follow is: “Honor your friends”. He meets a complete stranger in the Outworld… she happens to call him her friend… and now he must protect her and this other bloke forever because his master told him to ‘ honor his friends’. This is almost as if Quark and Data were combined into one person. He’s naive but smart, he’s not bloodthirsty but he’ll kill people he’s known his entire life without batting an eye if his masters tell him to do it. He was a very different sort of character, I just didn’t connect to it.

The world-building was definitely interesting, there’s a lot left to be revealed when I DNF’d and I was hesitant to put it down because this was one of the things that kept me turning pages for as long as I did. This might be one I circle back around to when I’m in a more motivated mood to read.

I don’t generally rate DNF’s unless I make it really far into the book. So, that’s not all that common. I DNF’d around 50% with this one. I really wanted to enjoy it more than I was – the disconnect and distant feeling I had with Rezkin killed it for me. If you think he sounds interesting I’d definitely pick this up.