When Shadows Fall, The Darkness Comes…
Please tell me you can see what the author is doing with this series. The names of the books, when in order, will create a coherent sentence. That is clever, and symptomatic of this author’s thinking.
It would be easy to say this is no less than I would have expected from someone as talented as Bruce Blake, but there is more to writing a book than expectation. This author is a man completely invested in his writing, so deeply involved with every story and each character that nothing short of exceptional prose will ever be printed under his name. An admirable personality.
Back to story now, and I can tell you the second installment of the Small Gods Series is advancing at the same action-packed pace as book one. We learn more about Ailyssa, the barren Mother left to fend for herself in the middle of the wilderness, blind and hopeless, by the only people she had known and trusted in her life. Her faith is still strong, but her new circumstances require that she make significant adjustments – and when is that easy? Thorn, the little grey man who dropped from the skies, also takes a more significant share of the story. Princess Danya and Prince Teryk, too, continue on their quests, and while one is making some progress in untangling the meaning of the prophecy, the other is at the mercy of the fates. Add to the cast a golem on a rampage, and you have the makings of a book you won’t be able to put down. I know I couldn’t.
Once again, I was awed at the skill and elegance with which the many strands of this story were braided together. Will the Small Gods return and therefore endanger the whole of mankind, or will the Goddess win? The original question still stands, and the adventures of the characters mentioned in the prophecy are more and more heart-stoppingly intense. The back-story intrigue is thick with deep-seated implications, showing an exceptional knack on the part of the author for observing and understanding human nature.
I wholeheartedly recommend this series. It is epic fantasy at its best. From what I can see, Bruce Blake is a prolific author, so you won’t have long to wait until the next book. Five shiny stars – and I would give it ten if I only could – for a book I cannot fault in any way. It sucked me in and allowed me to dream. Loved it.
A few excerpts to whet your appetite
This is Horace Seaman, one of my ten favourite characters – and I’m thinking of all my reading, ever (to give you an idea, that’s a good few thousand books, both classic and modern):
The fire’d done a fine job charrin’ one side o’ the pig leg to a dry, cracked bit o’ charcoal, but the other side what faced away from the flames looked worth chokin’ down. Horace wrapped his fingers ’round the knobby exposed bone end, then pulled away right quick. He weren’t no cook, so it didn’t occur to him the fire’s heat might’ve made the bone hot enough to burn him. Now he knew.
Horace shook his hand as though doin’ so might loosen up the pain. It didn’t do nothin’ to take away the burnin’, so he blew on it instead, puffin’ his cheeks out like one o’ them spiny fish when he did. Blowin’ didn’t help, neither, so he decided to resort to cursin’.
The writing style alone paints a good picture of Horace, man of the sea, who is struggling to make it on land, don’t you think?
Meet Princess Danya, a courageous young woman, who is by far more suited to the role of World Savior than her older brother.
“Why have you brought me here?” she demanded.
Her voice—too loud for the quiet room—bounced from wall to wall. The masked girl at her side laid a hand on the princess’ arm and leaned close to her ear.
Danya shot the girl an angered look, then returned her gaze to the so-called Mother of Death. The old woman’s eyes had slipped shut again, as though they weighed more than a woman of her age could manage to hold open for too long.
“A barren Mother, the seed of life.” The words floated up from the woman’s barely moving lips. “Do you understand what they speak of, princess?”
Before she thought about what she was doing, Danya responded by shaking her head. When she realized her mistake, she parted her lips, but the old woman interrupted.
“These are important words; words that may decide the fate of the world.”
The icy feeling crept across her flesh again; the princess stared at the woman’s wizened face.
“You were right in coming here.” The Mother of Death opened her cloudy eyes. “The barren Mother serves the Goddess, but she is not here. She is lost.”
Danya shook her head, unable to accept that the woman knew of her quest. Did she know about Teryk’s death, too?
“Your brother is not dead.”
And here is Bieta and her son, Stirk:
“How you going to get us water?”
“By sneaking into the tanner’s through the cellar, see if he’s got any.”
Stirk’s eyebrows met above the bridge of his nose. “You said we should never steal from old Flenge. Said it’s like biting his hand.”
“Biting the hand that feeds us,” she corrected. “But this ain’t a usual happening, Stirk. I don’t know how long it’ll be before Enin comes back. If we don’t get water, we ain’t going to be around to enjoy no gold.”
Bieta went to the open trap door in the corner and peered into the dark. Beside her, Stirk looked over her shoulder.
“You didn’t piss on the ladder, did you?” she asked.
“Naw. Careful of your step at the bottom, though. Had to shit before you woke up.”
She rolled her eye. “Get me the taper,” she said, holding out her hand.
Stirk hesitated. Bieta fixed her gaze on him.
“But it’ll be dark in here if you take it,” he said, a vague whimper hidden beneath his tone.
Through this feature, I’m hoping to have given you reason to try a new author. You’ll find a lot of entertainment in these pages, a good deal of nail-biting moments, and many chuckles, too. A very worthy read.
And here’s book one, When Shadows Fall. My review is here.