Gleason (Molters, 2016, etc.) continues his Far End fantasy saga with a tale of a tribal leader negotiating perils and forming alliances to secure a new home for his clans after a natural disaster.
This is the second installment of a heroic-fantasy tale that began in 2013’s Against a Tyrant. Its setting is the perilous, untamed realm of Vraniga, filled with predatory creatures and warring races and only sketchily explored by its inhabitants. It’s been years since tribal leader Vorik helped overthrow and kill the vicious warrior-chieftain Deemuth, and it’s mostly on that deed that Vorik’s authority rests as he aims to make his people’s settlement a peaceful trading post. But after a devastating earthquake hits, Vorik’s leadership is put to the ultimate test as he sets forth to find new territory for survivors—those still loyal to him, that is—and re-establish a stronghold. He settles on a place called Tower Rock, but there are many dangers that he must face, including unfinished business (and enemies) from Against a Tyrant. Although Vorik isn’t as colorful a protagonist as the nasty Deemuth of the earlier narrative, he’ll still hold readers’ interest as he chooses between tolerance, diplomacy, and duels-to-the-death while facing challenges to his reign. All the while, he’s mindful of not turning into a despot himself. A final threat that unites all the potential foes is a little too convenient, but Gleason tells the tale in a rousing fashion. In mapping out an original society, he sometimes seems to overlay his own nomenclature onto familiar fantasy tropes; there are beings that feel suspiciously elvish and warglike and even multiarmed “Obnarms” that would be right at home on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars. But the author still tells a crackling, satisfying yarn even if it seems to serve primarily as a bridge to further adventures down the line.
A solid middle chapter in a brawny fantasy-adventure chronicle.