Just a few days ago I posted an excerpt from this newly released grimdark fantasy, and now I’ve finished reading it, so here is my review:
The Hunter is a ruthless assassin. He despises most of humanity for its falseness, its hubris, its hypocrisy, and he truly believes that all those he kills are worthy of death. He prides himself on his abilities to carry out his contracts, for which he is handsomely paid, with efficiency and surety, and with meticulous attention to the details his clients demand.
And yet he has compassion for the innocents and the unfortunates of the city he calls home.
Here lies the true mastery of this novel – Andy Peloquin has done a superb job of creating a character who is largely reprehensible, and yet succeeds in gifting him with enough good qualities that I could find sufficient empathy for him to want to follow his journey.
And what a journey – not only a development of character (the one thing that I require of a book to find it worthy of my time), but also the discovery of deeply hidden layers upon layers of information about this world and its society that lie so well hidden beneath the surface, that even the Hunter himself is not aware of them. These things raise the novel, for me, far above the basic blood and gore-fest that it is on the surface.
There is fighting, anguish, blood, gore and pain (including torture) a-plenty in this novel – totally fitting for the type of story, but most definitely not for the squeamish. The writing has a distinctly masculine flavour which, don’t get me wrong, was in keeping with such a dark tale, but I did find it just a bit souring to see all the women depicted as whores, victims, or vacuous arm-candy. I question whether a noble woman who tries to kill the Hunter after he murders her husband and then calmly sleeps with her, is really deserving of the fate he deals out to her.
There is just one exception, and I hope to see more of her in future novels.
There were some areas still in need of tightening up – a few continuity glitches, such as a bun that gets eaten, and is then offered to another character: a small number of typos, of the extra/missing word variety that occur during re-writes; rather too much repetition, particularly in description.
Smells are important to this tale, but they always, without fail, come in threes. Even minor characters who are not going to live beyond the next page are given names, which, considering the size of the cast, was overkill. And there is one really slow section in the middle, where each of the thirteen – yes, thirteen – gods and their temples are described, one after another, yet most of this is unnecessary to the plot.
The world building is meticulous, and really solid, although we have only seen one city of this world as yet. The end, which wraps up this individual story – no cliff hanger here, thank you! – makes it plain that the Hunter will be moving on, and I will happily read his next tale, as I’m keen to see how he reconciles the opposing halves of his nature.
Recommended for fans of grimdark fantasy. Let the squeamish beware…
I received this book from the author, in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.