This fourth volume in an epic series finds a heroic quartet revisiting a magical world after a brief respite.
At the end of the previous adventure, the Sons of Odin—Adem Highlander, Wil Martyr, and Carl Wilder—as well as the Daughter of Thor, Jean Fairsythe, returned to Earth from the wondrous realm of Kismeria. Adem and Jean got married and had a child, Janeanne, with four years passing in harmony. One night, Janeanne vanishes from her bed, and Adem is convinced his nemesis, the Dark One, is responsible. Revealing this to his psychiatrist proves to be a mistake when Adem is locked up for observation. After breaking him out of the hospital, Jean, Wil, and Carl are surrounded by lightning and an “incandescent glow that seemed to stretch off into forever.” The four are transported to Kismeria’s foul East Lands, near the peak of Kerak’Otozi—the Dark One’s prison. Because time passes more quickly in the war-torn realm of goblins and Battle Angels, Janeanne has spent 20 years here. More shocking, the heroes must face the legacy of their departure—four years ago on Earth versus more than 1,000 years on Kismeria—during which time Pendral, the son Adem sired with the haughty Princess Isabelle, has become the formidable Koriken Demonfist. Opening this fourth installment on Earth, Hammer (Arawn’s Carnage, 2015, etc.) teases a different kind of narrative. It’s not long, however, before his love for mystical carnage reasserts itself. In the hospital, Adem encounters a shadowy figure whose voice was “devastating to behold” and “made him feel that his skin and flesh were being peeled off by the dark energies.” This novel follows a beat similar to the prior three, in which armies are assembled, personal demons lay exposed—like Adem dwelling on his affair with Isabelle—and vast battles engulf the land. Plot quirks include the Time Strider Elarja Rinhannen’s trip into the past, and the widespread use of the tainted Dark Trail magic. Dedicated fans should rejoice.
Though this tale begins with a unique rhythm, the author’s fantasy tropes draw it back into the series’ fold.