It took my quite some time to get into this book, but I am glad that I kept going. The story begins with a young boy rescued by a wraith which takes him and trains to be a Windchaser: a daemon hunter. Thus Darkmalian is formed. We are then jumped forward to the present day and a world about to be torn apart at the seams.
One of the things that I dislike in novels is too much back tracking or history lessons, this book has too many for me. At the beginning of many chapters we are given another glimpse into Darkmalian’s past showing us how he was trained by the wraiths. All of these prologues are good on their own but it makes the story see-saw all the way through breaking up the smooth passage. Were all these pieces gathered together at the start they would make an excellent introduction to the novel and allow us to sail on uninterrupted. I mention this as my editor pulled me up for it. With that aside it is back to the story.
Complicated. There are so many factions with tiers and traitors and double-crossers that come at you right from the start that it is difficult at times to remember who’s who. Much of the first half of the book is filled with this information which I am sure could be pruned (again I have done this myself). I always kept in mind that this long novel is the writer’s first and there are few people that have written novels without making faux pas. With that thought in mind its hats off to Mr Fraser for getting his vision down on paper and explaining it to us as best he could.
Complaints aside there are many, many things that he gets right. Dialogue is superb. Each character has its foibles that come through as clear in their actions as they do in their speech. There is plenty of action; often gruesome and grisly, sometime breaking the boundary into horror. There is no doubting that Michael Fraser has a highly overactive imagination through which he has created his world. A world that he is determined that we share with him. There is one invention in this book that I truly love – the windcannon, a gun that fires charged bolts of air.
As we progress through the story it settles down to a race against time. Darkmalian becomes the reluctant hero and must get to the fabled Heartstone before the daemon-gods. Cities everywhere are under siege by the daemons that are rising in ever increasing numbers and varieties beyond counting. In Lothos Par, the main capital, the daemons are after the Heavenstair to Shanduskala (heaven) here they are fought by Winchasers, paladins and all many of rogues locked in a final battle to be the last man standing. It’s all down to Darkmalian. If he can get the Amberchild (angel) to the Heartstone then balance can once again be restored and the daemons returned to hell where they belong.
When all is said and done this a very enjoyable fantasy if not a bit gruesome in places. A very commendable first novel that is getting a sequel: Enchantersmith, which I shall be reading when it comes out. Complicated it is, confusing at times but in the end worth the effort a well fought for 6/10 and at $0.99 you have nothing to lose.