The Shadow King

The Shadow King
The Raveling Book 3
By Alec Hutson

Scarred by what transpired on the island of the sorceress Niara, Keilan and his companions journey north, bearing a weapon forged to end the unnatural existence of the Chosen. But the sand is trickling through the hourglass, as the demon-children are laboring to bring about a second Raveling and end the age of man . . .

In the shattered city of Nes Vaneth, Cho Lin struggles to survive her imprisonment by the vicious Skein, while in Dymoria the Crimson Queen prepares to reveal her school of sorcerers by bringing them into the Frostlands to confront the Chosen and their allies . . .

Meanwhile, the immortal sorceress Alyanna schemes to restore her lost glory and destroy those who have wronged her . . .

506 pages
Published by Alec Hutson
Published on November 23, 2019
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A great conclusion to this debut trilogy by one of my favorite new fantasy authors.

I really wasn’t sure how Hutson was going to wind up all the various threads he’d begun weaving over books 1 and 2. And to be honest I like series – long series. I like to sink my teeth into epic fantasy worlds and live with the characters and explore the story and world building for some time. But wind up all the reads Hutson did. Well, the main ones 😉

This is a rip-roaring yarn of a novel. Alive with vibrant world building and crafted with a powerful vision and strong writing, Hutson has fill this book with action as the reader is swept along towards the final chapter. I found my self reading great chunks of the novel and often wanting to continue when I had to put the book down, leaving me very eager to pick it back up again.

I hope that Hutson continues to write in this world. I want more of Keilan’s journey, and Cho Lin’s – amongst others. I certainly feel there is more story to tell; and it was hinted at in the epilogue.

For the inevitable comparisons, if you enjoy Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and Peter V. Brett, then give Alec Hutson a try. You won’t regret it.

Dust of the Darkness

Dust of Darkness
The Riven realm Book 2
By Deck Matthews

Fleeing the ruins of his broken life, Caleb Rusk arrives in the sleepy village of Timberford. But when a series of brutal and vicious attacks stir the community into a terrified frenzy, Caleb and his friends must join with his bond-brother, Carvesh Tarne, a Cinderborn healer and a reclusive trapper to defend the village from the swarm of shadowbeasts that threatens to destroy them.

In the city of Taralius, a high ranking abbot is butchered in the heart of his cathedral. With evidence pointing to the involvement of the notorious assassins known as the White Glove, Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth finds himself faced with the spectres of a past he thought he’d left behind. Meanwhile, the blind old sage, Tiberius Alaran, tracks down a lead that could help explain why Hearthborn are suddenly burning out in the city—all while trying to protect secrets of his own.

But unbeknownst to either Avendor or Tiberius, a new player is sent to join the game—and her’s is a kiss of death.

147 pages
Published by Echo Enduring Media
Published on July 15, 2019
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This book picks up right were ‘The First of Shadows‘ left off and with a little introduction throws the reader head long into an epic adventure of magic, demons, politics and conspiracies.

I don’t know what I like more, the epic flow of Matthew’s narrative and his very cool characters, or the thrilling unveiling of the world of Varkas and its nuanced construction. As a world-builder myself I want to know EVERYTHING about it, as a reader I CANNOT WAIT for the next book!

I honestly can’t say enough about the talent of Deck Matthews.

From the first sample I read on his website back at the start of the year he has captivated my reading imagination and – having read everything he has produced to date – I have little hesitation in saying that if he continues on this track he will easily take the place as one of my favorite fantasy authors.

If you haven’t started the Riven Realm saga yet, and you are a fan of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, then do yourself a favor and start today.

The Dread Keep

Sitaria, my love. I write this before I cross the ice lake and seek entrance to Kaaronark. I would offer prayers that this letter, possibly my last, finds it way to you, but I fear the gods cast their eyes from me the moment the Mark of the Eye appeared on my hand. For that curse in and of itself surely proclaims I am no son of theirs.⁠

Art by Alexandr Komorov

I write this as the dawn lights the world around me. There are no colours here to paint the sky as they do on the Crescent Plains, merely a lessening of shadows, grey palors slashed with white. And the cold is more bitter than I ever imagined in these southern climes.

I can see Kaaronark now. Its granite walls tower above me. Even from two kilems away I am dwarfed by its size and feel more insignificant than I ever imagined. Some strange growth-vines perhaps-fall from its battlements like rotting curtains. and even the mists recoil from its dark walls. ⁠

I know not what awaits me within, I have seen no lights from its windows or smoke from its towers. The fables of the Evay are fools gold at the best of times, yet if they are true, if a Summoner still lives and makes his home in this dread keep, then I must find him. I must learn how I can rid myself of this Mark. This curse. For only then can I safely find my way back to you and our babe. ⁠

But I promise you this. I will not live in shame, or fear. I will not bring the curse of the Summoner down upon you and our family. If there is no redemption here, then I shall seek the remedy of death.⁠

Weep not for me, my love. I have lived a fruitful life. I met you and we have brought a son into the world. Take joy in that-for I surely do-and remember me as a man who did all he could to find a way to return to his family.⁠

All my love, L.

From ‘Legends of the Lichlord of Kaaronark‘.⁠


Obridan didn’t notice the mist lessen. He had been walking for so long. Placing one foot in front of the other was all he could do. Hunger had fled centuries ago, as had thirst. He could not recall the last night he had slept. All his efforts, all of his being, his Will, was focused on crossing this plane of damnation.

The light, when it came-yet again-was not a relief. There was no end to this exile. Not one of his own making. Or one made by others.

As always, with the light came the voice.

Obridan, for nigh on four thousand years you have walked the edge of Desolation. Your exile is at an end. The Age turns and the Son of the Eye is called once more.

“I gave up that title long ago.” His voice was a dry rasp

Do you not wish to reclaim it? For the two halves of your soul to be rejoined?

“The safety of my people is all I seek.” Dust swirled through the mist, the choking ashes of worlds destroyed by the power that would consume all he held dear.

Phoenix Lord, you have given so much to your people and they turn from you. Revile you for a traitor. The light of your truth, the vindication of your actions, lies before you. Let go of this husk and embrace the Light of the Eye once more.

Obridan continued walking. His eyes, hidden in the depths of his cowl, remained focused on the ground before him. “I gave up much for glory once before. More than I ever knew. You cannot tempt me with that poisoned chalice again.”

Prophecy calls. A new path lies before you.

He raised his head. “My life, my path, is not yours to make!”

You will be healed of your memories.

He stopped walking. “I am my memories!” Around him, dark shapes gathered in the mist.

You cannot avoid your fate.

“My fate is mine to chose!”

He lifted the staff in his hand and brought it’s end down hard upon the ground. Power exploded from him, a circle of energy radiating outwards and incinerating the daemons that had been gathering. Extinguishing the false light.

He staggered, leaning against the staff.

Would they never learn? His soul was not split in two halves. It was shattered across five.

There was no end to this exile. Only when the fourth and fifth parts of his soul were spun out into the world once more could prophecy begin to be fulfilled.

Slowly, Obridan continued to walk.

Master of Sorrows

Master of Sorrows
The Silent Gods Book One
By Justin Call

You have heard the story before – of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.

Among the Academy’s warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents’ killers.

But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?

What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?

Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy’s masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfill.

Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is . . . and the darker truth of what he may become . . .

448 pages
Published by Gollancz
Published on February 26th, 2019
Author’s webpage
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Master of Sorrows, a debut from Justin Call, is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat, hands-over-your-eyes, TENSE type of a read that is full awesome characters and brilliant lore and worldbuilding.

The main character Annev, is infuriatingly naive but the events of the book seed growth in him and I am really keen to see where Call takes him (and the other characters) next.

Also, the epilogue. Wow.

Master of Sorrows is a ‘masterful’ work of epic fantasy that harkens back to the feel of Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks and even David Eddings, while still holding the sensibilities of more modern fantasists like Brent Weeks and Brandon Sanderson.

Bring on book 2!

The Game

Torbal crouched in the shadows and watched the guards on the street below. He couldn’t help the smirk that crossed his face as fat one scratched his head.

Art by Michael Komarck

The one in the middle, the leader he presumed, was unable to hide his displeasure at finding the street they’d chased him into empty.

But it wouldn’t do to gloat, that way lay hubris and tempted the Fates. He whiped the smirk form his face and kept one eye on the tall, slim fellow who held the lantern high and peered into the shadows.

Torbal made it a point to wear clothing that would reflect no light when he went on a job, but you could never be too careful. He wasn’t getting any further up this building with those guards directly below and he did not need the lantern-bearer to see the glint of light on buckle or a dagger hilt.

He shifted back a little further against the statue of some forgotten knight and settled in to wait. The night had been going so well until Sioned had decided to move in on his mark. He hadn’t even known she was back in the city! She was obviously keeping better tabs on his movements however.

Just as he’d been about to open the windows into the second-floor bedroom of the Latrelle Estate, they had been flung open and she’d lent out, smiled down at him-with a beauty so lovely it still had the power to take his breath away-and then screamed.

He’d slid back down the rope, and dashed across the dark garden and over the wall. But the grandees who lived on Sovereign Hill paid well to ensure that the city watch frequently patrolled the streets around their gold filled abodes.

Well he wasn’t finished with the Latrelle’s, they were the richest mark in town and he was going to have them.

As for Sioned; he’d have her too. One way or another.

A Knight of the Emerald Flame

Laeroth fell to one knee, his sword splashing into the creek beside him.⁠

Art by Efflam Mercier @efflammercier

He tried to catch his breath but the arrow-arrows, he knew there was more than one, each strike has felt like a hammer blow-shifted as his chest moved. The pain was excruciating.⁠

He couldn’t stop the cough when it came and blood dribbled out of his mouth. He swayed, but managed to catch himself on one arm before he collapsed face first into the creek next to his sword. ⁠

He had to focus!⁠

He’d lost his hold of Telumisere as soon as he’d finished off the Amarian blademaster. Thank Garnavaar he hadn’t lost it earlier or he’d have been a dead man. As it was, unless he could find his way back to the Sphere of Elemental Earth he’d likely die anyway.⁠

He’d been taught to focus on the Green using his breath, but he couldn’t breathe. The pain was too great. Even the swallow breaths he was taking now felt like his chest was being sliced open with blades of fire. ⁠

How could he find his way back to Telumisere if he couldn’t focus!⁠

He couldn’t use his breathing, couldn’t take the breaths to count… to count… ⁠

He listened. The sounds of battle were either further away than he’d thought or he was going to black out. But he could hear his heart beat. ⁠

Da-dum – focus!⁠

Da-dum, da-dum – he could feel the earth beneath his fist and knee.

Da-dum, da-dum – he pushed his senses into the cool soil.⁠

Da-dum, da-dum – the peace of the god of the earth teased his senses.⁠

Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum – the green light of Telumisere began to line the edges of his sight.⁠

Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum – it began to fill him. The pain in his back fading to a dull ache.⁠

He felt the arrows fall from his back and he breathed deeply, his lungs no longer burning. He coughed, blood gushing from his mouth but it was only his body expelling what had already pooled in his lungs. ⁠

He was a Knight of the Emerald Flame. He’d live.