Hallelujah, after a long drought I finally found a fantasy novel I loved. I’ve been dying for something since I finished the Time Dancers (last in the Meq trilogy by Steve Cash and awesome) and no one seems to be writing anything. Or the Corona books buyer is slack and hates me.
So I grabbed this and it looked good and I got one chapter in and was completely hooked. The story revolves around Asheris, a jinni-human demon in love with the empress’s consort and constantly at risk from the church, and Isyllt, a death mage fleeing from her old life, her lost love and the sense of hopelessness that arises when she thinks about her future. The two-sometimes enemies, sometimes lovers- must survive long enough to cross the desert and trap an ancient force threatening to destroy the world*.
I really love when lead characters in fantasy are just normal people. Isyllt carries a black diamond to store the souls she harnesses, but she also sleeps with her body guard and Asheris because she’s lonely and she worries about not being a good guardian to her apprentice Moth, but not enough to actually change how she acts. Asheris is this brash and beautiful fire-winged thing, who longs for freedom one moment and immerses himself in the machinations of the court the next. The characters here become people you know, people you’d be friends with, so you find yourself a little worried for them when there are endless would-be assassins and a hungry manticore.
Another one i read in a single afternoon, Kingdoms is original and well constructed fantasy. I long to live in any of the empires and kingdoms Downum has brought to life. The names are more than my thick tongue can handle, but the prose is quick witted and elegant and while the book is part of a series (the necromancer chronicles) it serves perfectly as a stand alone as well. Except one is not going to be enough, do I suggest you buy them all.
Ps: the author, Amanda Downum is on twitter and is quite lovely.
*Ancient forces rarely do anything else.