The Horns Of Ruin by Tim Akers (book review).

April 15, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘The Horns Of Ruins’ is an exciting blend of fantasy and steampunk set in a rich and varied city where technology and magic co-exist. It’s main theme is religion and the way it can be used to control. How what we are expected to except on faith may not be the whole truth. How religion can be mistreated and abused in the pursuit of power.

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The city of Ash is a vast and complex society that has been ruled, conquered, destroyed and rebuilt by many different races and faiths in its long and torrid history. Currently, humans are in the ascendant. Their religion is based on three brothers who were born mortal, centuries ago, who ascended to godhood. Born Amon, Morgan and Alexander, they were men who became gods through their legendary deeds. Immortal until Amon betrayed and killed Morgan and was in turn sentenced to death, leaving Alexander the last remaining god to rule the city alone.

Three cults now dominate the religious landscape of the city, each devoted to one of the brothers. Followers of the cult of Amon, doomed to forever pay penance for their gods actions. The cult of Morgan who mourn the loss of their god while they nurse a hate for the Ammonites that has been passed down through the generations. Lastly, the followers of Alexander, the only cult whose god is still alive and who rules and controls every aspect of city life.

This is first person narrative, told through the eyes of Eva Forge, the last paladin of Morgan. Whose cult is on the verge of extinction due to a dwindling number of recruits.

Forge is acting as bodyguard for the Fratriarch, the head of her cult. Together, they pay a visit to the temple of Amon, where the followers do their god’s penance. On their way back, they are attacked by Cold-men, animated corpses who abduct the Fratriarch and try to kill Forge in the process.

What follows is an exhilarating ride as Forge rampages through the city in her efforts to recover her leader. This first incident sets off a chain of events that leads Forge to uncovering some very dark secrets, that could threaten their entire way of life. But who is behind this conspiracy? Amon’s followers or something far worse and is it worth your while to read and find out? Yes, yes, it is.

Forge has a secret past which is never fully explained but this lack of back story is possibly being held back for later books and, as it stands, has no real impact on the story in hand. If anything it lends an air of mystery to the character. She is a capable and formidable fighter who leaves a path of destruction in her wake as she turns the city upside down in her search for answers. She is headstrong and not one for subtlety, which makes for some very exciting confrontations as she butts heads with anyone in her way. Forge treats friends and foes with equal disdain in her pursuit of the truth and the rescue of the Fratriarch

I liked the blend of technology and magic in this book. Forge wields everything from spells and swords to guns in her quest. The city itself is a fantastical mishmash of magic along with steampunk style ideas of rocket packs, monorails and cars. It makes for a more interesting read and helps to conjure a unique world in the mind’s eye. Magic is particularly interesting as it is invoked not by the reciting of spells but, by reliving the famous deeds of their gods, a great way of evoking the past and adding colour to the gods themselves.

The story leads to a well thought out and satisfying conclusion. My only gripe with the book was a over tendency toward jargon and titles that, although help create an otherworldly feel to the city, did lead to a bit of confusion but once past this it was a fun and flowing read. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something different to the normal fantasy tropes.

Daniel Mason

April 2016

(pub: Pyr/Prometheus Books, 2010. 268 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $16.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-61614-246-9)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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