Thornhill’s debut fantasy novel follows the adventures of four magical friends out to battle a jilted necromancer.
Mordic, a “half-elph,” recalls his teacher telling him, “Each person has been touched by the aftermath of the Calamity, the fall of Utatam.” That fall, which probably happened about 15 generations before, was followed by both the Great Waste of Time—“part of the great history of the world that no one remembers, nor was it recorded”—and a great deal of magic. Creatures of all kinds now compete for power: polymorphs can change themselves into different creatures, while necromancers are feared for their ability to bring death and destruction. Adventuring through this time are Mordic, Kale, Mattatias and Kalamar. Though they hail from different backgrounds and possess different abilities, the four become friends in a quest against the dreaded, lonely necromancer Nigel, who’s been rejected by Lady Elaina. He hasn’t taken it well: “I want her to love me of her own volition.” Added into the mix is the mysterious Simon, who possesses the “first and only onyx weapon to exist on this continent in over a thousand years!” Simon is a deadly figure who, with his powerful sword, is one to be reckoned with. Loaded with action and introspection—particularly from the contemplative Mordic, who is “seeking knowledge and adventure”—the complex story has numerous characters with varied motivations. Keeping track of it all can be challenging, even with “The Chronicler” introducing chapters and offering helpful information: e.g., “Ropermai teems with interesting people and places.” Fans of the genre will find much of interest, including elements such as the “Neuromantic Shocking Wave” from which “One quarter of the men fell asleep, one quarter were dazed, one quarter were killed, and one quarter were unfazed.” Though the story relies on many fantasy tropes (powerful magic, noisy taverns serving “goblin grog,” etc.) and an assortment of sometimes familiar weapons (“Mattatias drew his golden spear”), the story nevertheless manages to distinguish itself with things such as self-help books (“Intelligence Can Be Boosted”) and six-legged creatures called hexahorses. Occasionally, dialogue can be dull—“ ‘Sack of taters, you do that too well,’ Mordic thought to Kale”—but the strange story is ultimately an inventive one.
At times overly familiar, other times creative; should please readers interested in adding oddities to slashing swords and dangerous magic.