Blade of the Destroyer by Andy Peloquin is an exciting new novel in the Grimdark genre. Spectacular fight scenes, wonderful world-building, and an interesting plot all add up to a dark fantasy story you won’t want to miss!
From the Publisher:
The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.
When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?
The protagonist (I hesitate to call him a ‘hero.’ He’s an anti-hero if there ever was one!) is an immortal and shadowy figure haunting the city of Voramis. Known only as The Hunter, he is an assassin par excellence, plying his trade tactics of disguise, deception and assassination throughout the city. He has a prestige for his wicked abilities, and is rightly feared by those who know him. Think Dexter crossed with James Bond, ritually bound to a cursed dagger that steals peoples souls, and drives the Hunter to kill.
Sadly, the story lacks any positive female characters. The majority of the female characters are either bedded or sold. The only potential female ‘lead’ in the story was back-stabbing in one scene, and used as a human shield in the next. And there is a tender moment near the end of the story that was beyond the pale for me. I’d have found all this more acceptable if she kicked ass somewhere in the story. Thankfully, the story focuses on the Hunter as the primary character, and double-thankfully written in third-person point of view, although we do get inside the Hunter’s head plenty in the story.
An interesting aspect of the story is the theme of good and evil. There are no clear-cut good or evil characters in the story, and the best example of this is The Hunter himself. His actions show that he is definitely torn between a love for, and hatred of, humanity. His cursed dagger drives him to carry out his ‘job’ as an assassin with a disturbingly detached remorselessness. But he also cares about people, going out of his way to provide food and shelter for some of the more fragile members of society.
I got the sense that his very dualistic mind is sated by both taking care of people and killing them. That nature made him feel very real on the page to me, and that duality is a major plot thread sparking an ending that will make you want to read more in this ongoing series.It’s refreshing to see a hero who isn’t looking to do “good” or “evil” for the sake of either, but looking to find some kind of balance or peace in between. The best part is the writing does not hit you over the head with this. This aspect is felt or experienced rather than spelled out in the story, the mark of a mature author.
The fight scenes are another highlight of Andy’s writing. I’ve read few stories where the action scenes are described with just the right amount of detail. Not enough detail, and I feel cheated out of some swashbuckling. Too much detail, and the story bogs down like a D&D battle against an Undead Tessearact. The fight scenes in Blade of the Destroyer are a good balance of detail and really well done. This is a good thing for the book, as there are many fight scenes here!
Invulnerable characters always make me wary of a feeling I call The Superman Effect. I never really cared about Superman because I never worried that he would get hurt. So when I started reading Blade of the Destroyer, I was curious if this would be the case, seeing as the Hunter was immortal, healing from any non-mortal wound a’la Wolverine. I was pleased to discover that the author used some clever tricks to get around The Superman Effect. I won’t spoil the story here, but safe to say there are very real threats the Hunter faces, some worse than death.
Blade of the Destroyer follows our hero through the depths of the dank and beautiful city of Voramis, a dark fantasy amalgamation of places, some similar to old England, with many fantasy embellishments thrown in.
I liked how the Hunter’s “job” kept him moving through the entire city. Sometimes he would be in disguise, spying on the locals at the tavern, or attending fancy dinner parties. Later, he would don his assassin’s garb and travel from his safe house in the slums, sneaking into the homes of rich targets, and dashing across the rooftops a’la Assassin’s Creed. This allowed the experience of the whole city to be conveyed, not just the Hunter’s neighborhood.
Voramis itself is richly detailed. The oppressiveness of the city is delivered to you via all of your senses. Beyond just the sights, sounds and smells of the city, you experience everything from the tiles on the rooftops to the trash in the lowest alleyway gutter. The writing really fills your senses with the town, steeped in what seemed a stark contrast of rich beauty and abject poverty.
There is very little of the world mentioned outside of Voramis itself, but the ending does imply travel to other areas in future novels in the series. Because Andy was able to do so much worldbuilding with just a single city, I’m excited to read about the wide world the Hunter lives in.
Graphic fight scenes abound. Slavery, child slavery, and graphic child deaths are all here. Make no mistake, this is grim, and this is dark. This is Grimdark, not Disney!
The darkness surrounding the Hunter himself is a mystery, and the ending of this story sounds like only the beginning of the Hunters quest for an inner resolution.
Between the world, the main character and the plot, there is plenty of grim darkness in Blade of the Destroyer to appease any fan of the genre.
Blade of the Destroyer is an excellent Grimdark novel for those who like their worlds richly dark and fantastic, their stories packed with action, and their heroes anti.
Check out the new Grimdark novel, Blade of the Destroyer by Andy Peloquin! http://amzn.com/B012EI9M4A
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