When you are all out of heroes, all that’s left are the villains.
Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knees… Until the day she abandoned her army, on the eve of total victory.
40 years later, she must bring her former captains back together for one final stand, in the small town of Tarnbrooke – the last bastion against a fanatical new enemy tearing through the land, intent on finishing the job Black Herran started years before.
Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope.
File Under: Fantasy [ Heroes or Horrors? | Flames and Faith | Blood and Guts | Hell Demons ]
Unlikely allies confront an army of holy knights in this fast-paced if uneven fantasy adventure from Johnston (God of Broken Things). In the land of Essoran, demonologist Black Herran was once a fearsome general until she abandoned her armies on the cusp of victory. Forty years later, she must reunite her old comrades among them Maeven, a necromancer, and Tiarnach, the former god of war to face down a new enemy. Though each member of the memorable ensemble holds a grudge against Black Herran, they each agree to join her, seeking personal gain. Together, they must defend the militarized peasant town of Tarnbrooke against the invading armies of the Lucent Empire. There's never a lull in the action, and the mismatched group provides plenty of fun, with high tension and biting arguments between the over-the-top characters keeping the pages turning. Unfortunately, classic fantasy creatures like orcs and vampires feel slightly out of place in Johnston's world, and the frequent mistreatment of female characters keeps this brutal tale from reaching its potential. Regardless, fans of grimdark fantasy will find plenty to enjoy.)
Bad to the bone, and you can’t help but love it.
The idea of good and evil is exposed by making it really about innocence and power. The terrible and wonderfully different team of protagonists comes together to fight the zealots of the bright one, a goddess of… good? I loved the “getting the team back together” aspect which then turned into fun rivalries, in a world of high power and bloodshed. The mystery of who and what everyone wants keep the pages turning, as well as the question, what does it take to kill a god?