I’m not going to get into details about story or plot, but I will say for a fantasy, adventure, murder mystery that reaches beyond its genres and delves into the complicated ins and outs of social injustice, racism, and xenophobia, I was emotionally battered by the end of this. It has the fitting taste of a bittersweet candy, the appropriate air of Greek tragedy, for more is lost than life. It is both epic and personal, just and unfair, heroic and undignified. A treatise could be written about all the levels and layers sheltered away in this thoroughly entertaining and emotionally wrenching story.
The most helpful elements in all this are the beautifully written characters. Sha, the Captain of the Royal Guard, is hopelessly imperfect, but hopelessly good. She is so earnest to see the right thing done for the people she cares about that she becomes reckless along the way. She’s too bold for a heart that’s so big. But is she only that? Layers of Sha’s past are violently torn away from her, revealed, leaving her vulnerable and stunned. Is she the hero we thought she was, that she was working so hard to be? We see how all the dominoes fell to get to the beginning of this story, and it’s not all pretty.
I could rant and rave about this incredible book, but I’ll let you take over when you read it. I will let you proclaim Jeff Stokley’s art work to be nothing short of masterful, André May’s colors to be vibrant, creating breathtaking landscapes, Steve Wands' detailed lettering giving you the sense of asides and emotional weight through minor adjustments in font and gradient. I will let you tell your friends excitedly that Simon Spurrier has become one of your favorite writers. I will let you feel pain at the end as you hope there’s more story to tell, but knowing in your heart that this is the end, because some things cannot be fixed simply because a story concludes.
Do yourself a favor and buy the book, so you can take over the role of town crier from me, because books like this need as many criers as possible.