*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
2018 B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree
Blurb: Five hundred years of war have just come to a bloody end in one great catastrophic blast. Who won? Taurok is not sure. It was not the loyal Royalists—they are all dead except for a few stragglers like himself. Not the Rebels, surely. Their casualties were just as great.
Too stubborn to die, the giant Zendalian is hunted relentlessly through the ruins of the once great city when he stumbles upon a dying Royalist soldier. Mortally wounded, Taurok settles beside him to sing the death song that will take them both across the Veil to the halls of the Gods of War. But the dying boy has other ideas. He is a she and she is Ancellian, which makes her the last Queen of the Crimson Eyrie.
This changes everything. Fierce are the people of Zenal but none are fiercer than the Ancellians. Red Moon is her name. The people of Zenal have served the Royal household for ten thousand years. Lying next to her in the dark, Taurok pledges his allegiance to this tiny queen, knowing that if she lives she will destroy everyone who has ever transgressed against her kind. Hope fills Taurok’s heart as he dreams of getting his revenge for the death of everyone he has ever loved.
All he has to do is keep her alive.
Taurok’s Vengeance is an old-school sci-fi fantasy featuring space and time travel, ‘alien’ races (of which humanity is one among many, and not the primary), and a war between the establishment and the rebellion which holds our protagonists trapped at the epicentre of the action.
Here magic mixes with futuristic technology and weaponry; all is fair in war and the annihilation of an entire race of people; and a suspiciously aged youth fights alongside a grizzled soldier with nothing left to lose as they try to solve the mystery of how to bring peace in a world where the gods themselves . Behind everything lurk the terrifying Wizards – part human, part machine, and all horror – who clearly have their own agenda and are racing against our heroes to find what they seek.
With the writing style focused on the plot and world-building elements of the novel, I found that there was an emotional distance from the characters, but this actually helped draw my attention to the main theme of the story, which was the resolution of the juxtapositions between war, peace and vengeance using logic and compromise.
Those fond of classic science fiction mixed with techno-fantasy, in a similar vein to Ursula Le Guin or William Gibson, will enjoy Taurok’s Vengeance.
One day, the Ancellian King went to the Great River and made a doll out of mud. Then he pricked his finger and placed a drop of his blood in the chest cavity. The doll woke and stood, half-formed, bowing before its King. Being prescient, perhaps he regretted his actions. The King wept a single tear that fell into the doll’s right eye. The little being opened its eyes for the first time and gazed upon the face of its Maker. As it opened its mouth to cry out, the King whispered the single word for Truth and placed it on the doll’s tongue. But the King forgot to clear the being’s ears of the mud from the river and so the sound never found its way to its brain but rested, forgotten, in its heart. Thus were created humans, who could lie without going mad, who could feel compassion with the hearts of gods, but who ere equally cruel, and who were blind in one eye and far-seeing in the other.
Humans are the Third People of the current Epoch.
– J. D. Lakey, Taurok’s Vengeance
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