By: Craig Halloran
Publisher: Two-Ten Book Press
Publication Date: July 2010
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: December 2010
For lack of a better term to begin this review, this author has written an extremely cool book. Upon opening the cover, my eyes were met with a set of trading cards that boasted the most amazing color graphics I’ve seen in a long time. The cards introduce readers to the main characters of this Epic Fantasy including: Mood, whose statistics reveal that he is one of only one hundred rare giant dwarves living on Bish; Melegal, a thief who lives to have fun; Farc, a half-ogre; and, our star, Venir (AKA the Darkslayer) who is a powerful warrior and the hero of Bish. Let’s just say with this type of introduction, I eagerly dove into the book!
We begin in the City of Bone located on the world of Bish. This city is beyond ruthless, with over one hundred thousand citizens living behind its huge, enclosed walls. The people of the City are kept in line by the Royals, who are the ruling class that like to use methods of pain and torture, as well as public hangings, to keep everyone doing as they’re told. Why live here in this madness, you ask? Well, it’s far better to live in the City than to have to risk the unprotected world that lingers outside Bone’s walls, referred to as the Outlands.
On the world of Bish there are two groups that make up the population. One is the human population, and the other are called the underlings. The underlings live underground in small cities and caves and are an entirely evil race. The one thing they despise above all things is an entity known only as the Darkslayer. This person has been going through different cities and towns eliminating the underlings one by one, and they want nothing more than to discover this man’s real identity and wipe him out.
The author then takes us into a dank prison cell where a huge, muscled man named Venir is hanging on the wall. His long blonde hair and blazing blue eyes certainly ‘mark’ him as a true hero. The issue that landed him in the “clink” was a battle that he had with one of the Royals. Venir won the fight, and the ruling family is making him pay for striking one of their own. In the cell beside Venir is a thief named Melegal. A long time ago Venir and Melegal met in an orphanage and have been each other’s friend ever since. Melegal is brusque but extremely funny.
Through many circumstances that I won’t reveal – but that do include a fight with a two-headed Bull Mastiff named Chongo – Venir and Melegal escape from the prison but must immediately flee the City of Bone because the Royals are coming after them. Not only are they hunting Venir down, but the underlings are banding together to search the country to find the Darkslayer. What both factions don’t know, of course, is that Venir and the Darkslayer are one and the same.
Into the Red Clay Forest they ride trying to escape Lord Alman, the father of the young man Venir harmed; Detective McKnight, a man working for the Royals who will try his best to uncover the Darkslayer’s secret; and, groups of underlings that have banded together to take the Darkslayer out once and for all. Add in a storyline about infinite beings creating worlds, and you have a wonderful story with layer upon layer of fantastical threads of fiction.
The action and adventure in this book is first-rate. The battles, the costumes, the locations…everything will keep you glued to the page. The secondary characters including a warrior named Jarla, who reminds me so much of Xena; a cage match held in a pit with Farc; Scorch and Trinos, infinite beings who have an interesting way of controlling things; and, many, many more are people you will not soon forget.
Quill says: Although there is more than a bit of violence in this fantasy novel – especially the underlings with their creepy, sick ways of using humans as artwork – the story more than makes up for the few grisly scenes. In fact, the crafting of this story, the amazing illustrations, as well as the trading cards, makes me believe that these characters should also appear in a video game or up on a movie screen very, very soon. Enjoy!