Gods, zombies, kings, wizards, and death-magic battle to the, well, death in a story that’s sparked more by its denizens and their deeds than its standard fantasy backdrop.
For centuries the mages of the Black Tower kept a dangerous artifact owned by Shroud, the Lord of the Dead, hidden and quiescent. But with the Black Tower now a spent force, ambitious mage Mayot Mencada steals the Book of Lost Souls, though he lacks the ability to unlock the book’s protective wards. A meddlesome goddess, the Spider, Shroud’s rival, removes the wards, whereupon Mencada unleashes the book’s power to create a vast army of the dead. The tide of death-magic draws other interested parties whose motives only gradually reveal themselves. Guardian Luker Essendar, a warrior with Will-powered magic, constrained to serve an emperor he despises, agrees to investigate only because Kanon, his old mentor, was dispatched earlier and has not been heard from since. As Mencada’s zombie warriors threaten to overrun Galitia, its prince, Ebon Calidar, realizes he must quell the source of the death-magic. A mysterious and seemingly immortal necromancer, Parolla Morivan, has overwhelming personal reasons for wanting to confront Shroud. And the Spider sends Romany Elivar, her hedonistic high priestess, to pick off the agents Shroud directs to retrieve his book. None of the players can afford to trust any of the others. This basic, satisfying plot displays enough original elements to make it intriguing. The characters, whose personalities drive the narrative as much as the clash of magics, battle through page after relentless page of grim, desperate, surprising, and often enthralling action. Equally satisfying, the ending wraps things up without annoying and taunting cliffhangers.
A splendid launch. Turner’s unquestionably a newcomer to watch.