A worthy addition to the epic fantasy canon
“If it so pleases you, we will fire dance in his honor.”
This story is a treasure, a work of art, a labor of love and a magical artifact. Weighing in at 446 pages and something near 200,000 words, Joe Jackson’s first foray in epic fantasy nails both epic and fantasy. Featuring the rare strong female lead, who is not human but demon-hunter, black and winged, but simultaneously all female and all warrior, Jackson’s world and heroine are fresh and unique.
First, to the naysayers. Yes, the story starts slow. For the world-building is intricate, detailed, lovingly crafted and real. I know Kari’s world, for I have now smelt it, tasted it, heard it, learned of its gods and demons. I call this not fault but beautiful slow-building power and solidity, a concreteness and reality that make Jackson’s world as real to me as Tolkien’s or Le Guin’s or Salvatore’s worlds. Is there too much explanation and back story and arcane detail? Possibly. But if you are a reader who is looking for your next great fantasy world and characters to fall in love with and pursue through hundreds of rich and glorious pages, you will not mind the slow pace of the first half or the detailed descriptions of races and lands and history but rather will revel in them.
For gamers, of both the dice or digital tribes, you will instantly know the distinctions between rogues and wizards, healers and tanks. If you, of those tribes, enjoy the RPG part of MMORPGs, you will love this book. And if you are a dice-throwing D&D fanatic, you will have found your ancestral home. If you have no idea what I am talking about, this beautiful rich world and its gloriously complex and detailed heroine may not move you, and so you should pass by, and read something simpler and less demanding. But if you are of either of those tribes, then you must make this journey, alongside Kari, demon-hunter.
I do not want to give away details of the plot, or Kari’s relationships with her fellows the Silver Blades, or her fascinating back story, for these are pleasures due the worthy reader. But any book that begins with a bath and a double god-hammer and ends with a fire dance promises a strenuous and adventurous journey, slow though its start may be. The fighting is rare but physical and visceral, with a Special Forces concreteness that makes the moments memorable. The sex is loving and based in relationship. The conversations are between real and distinctive characters, with individual motivations and agendas.
Jackson has fashioned an amazing world and a brilliant heroine. I look forward to the next installment in the Eve of Redemption series and highly recommend this work to fans of epic, gargantuan fantasy.