Review: The Mark of Ran

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The Mark of Ran
Sea Beggars Book One
By Paul Kearney
The world is dying, seemingly forsaken by its creator. Mankind schemes, plots and wages wars across it, forgetting that another race once dwelled here. To some they where Angels, exiled for a long-forgotten crime; to others they were demons…
So starts the first book in Kearney’s new series, a tale woven with an eloquent style that is hard-edged and gritty. Set in a decaying world filled with legends and fragments of a glorious past, Kearney introduces his readers to fantasy on the high seas, the continent of Umer being a collection of islands, large and small – rather than the forest filled land masses we are typically presented with, although there are those too – separated by huge tracks of wild oceans and brutal seas.

In Rol Cortishane veins runs the blood of the Elder race. Driven from his home, Rol seeks refuge in the ancient citadel of Michal Psellos, where he is trained to be a killer of men, an assassin without pity. After years spent mastering the art of murder, Rol defies Psellos and returns to the high seas.
Kearney is one of the best writers of British fantasy around. His prose is consistently of the highest standard. His use of language is concise, yet vivid – in one paragraph he can paint a picture that would take another author a page to describe. His dialogue intelligently adds to world building, scene setting and distinctive characterisation. In a story set over a period of years, Kearney’s character development is dynamic, clear and, most of all, realistic. The plot itself is tight and never stagnates or wastes pages on unnecessary sub-plots; it is completely driven by character action and resulting consequence that meld together in a snowball effect, taking you on a breathless ride that avoids ‘traditional’ fantasy quests.
This is the beginning of Cortishane’s story. A tale in which he journeys across the breadth of this teeming, wicked world and finds a legendary Hidden City where the desperate and the dispossessed fight for survival. This is the first of the chronicles of Rol’s great voyages, and those of his compatriots; a band of outcasts who took to the wide oceans of the world when every nation of the earth set its face against them. Ussa’s Orphans they were called, the Beggars of the Sea…
Though it is a comparatively short novel for the epic fantasy market, so much happens you could swear you’d read a book twice its size. It’s fun, original and enthralling, and sure to appeal to fans of Steven Erikson, R Scott Bakker, Glen Cook and even George R R Martin. This book is a must for serious readers of fantasy fiction.

2 Responses

  1. I've been on a Kearney kick lately and I'm glad this one sounds like it's on the same level as the others. Guess it's not going to end any time soon. :)I'm also extremely jealous that you have Stonewielder already. Extremely!

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