What to say? Another Pyr release; another steampunk book; another highly enjoyable read... The Horns of Ruin, Tim Akers’ second novel after the apparently brilliant Heart of Veridon, cannot be justly summed up by the sentence above, but for those of you familiar with Pyr titles, I think that statement can give you a pretty good indication of what to expect from this book. In general, much more can be said about The Horns of Ruin, and it’s mostly good things. An engaging and eventful blend of the sword and sorcery tale told with elements of steampunk, this is perhaps one of the most original books to come out this year. And that’s saying something - the year is almost over.
Eva, forsaken by her parents and forgotten by her family, was the last child dedicated to the Cult of Morgan. Morgan, god of battle and champion of the Fraterdom, was assassinated by his jealous brother, Amon. Over time, the Cult of Morgan has been surpassed by other gods, Morgan’s blessings ignored in favor of brighter technologies and more mechanical miracles. Now, Eve watches as her new family, her Cult, crumbles around her.
When a series of kidnappings and murders makes it clear that someone is trying to hasten the death of the Cult of Morgan, Eva must seek out unexpected allies and unwelcome answers in the city of Ash. But will she be able to save the city from a growing conspiracy, one that reaches back to her childhood, even back to the murder of her god?
Gods, warriors, swords, magic; what else is missing from a sword and sorcery tale? Not much I reckon, and these elements The Horns of Ruins has in spades. Eva Forge is the warrior and she’s wholeheartedly dedicated to her God - in this case a dead one - and serves a critical purpose in what remains of said God’s cult. And yes, she carries a sword, but she also happens to carry a gun, which is just the beginning of the twist Akers has put on this story.
The rest, though neat and atmospheric, can to a point be set aside. The story concentrates on the chaotic events that follow the kidnapping of the Fratriarch of the Cult of Morgan, to which Eva belongs. This starting point allows the story to develop into a city-wide chase for answers and revenge, with plenty of gruesomely entertaining fights, skirmishes and physical encounters as well as a healthy dose of conspiracies, plots and mysteries surrounding Eva and the (used to be) three gods ruling the city of Ash.
Sold yet? With a premise and such strong story elements it would have been hard for Akers to deliver anything less than a mediocre book, but, of course he delivers better. His execution of the plot is nearly flawless, with an entrancing pace and a welcomed alternation between action-heavy sequences and the more mellow (perhaps no the best of words, but...) ones. A strong sense of wit and irony reveals itself in his prose making The Horns of Ruin a novel gifted with both a great storyline and very developed, streamlined writing.
Perhaps the book’s only fault lies with its main character, Eva. As fun as she is to follow along on her wild revenge-runs through the city, not to mention reading of her exploits with the blade and gun, Eva’s a difficult character to relate too, her unlikely dedication and incredibly headstrong nature being occasionally too far-fetched for me to have cared. Neither, though, is she a cold distant character for which the reader feels nothing at all. No, she falls somewhere in the middle, when maybe being a bit more on the warm side of the spectrum would have been better.
This vastly original and captivating read is one I can easily recommend, as is becoming the pattern with Pyr books. Akers’ The Horns of Ruin is one for all the fans of sword and sorcery, just as much as it is for the fans of steampunk and, obviously and even more so, for fans of both. Readers might also like to check out Akers’ only other novel, Heart of Veridon. That I am aware, there are no planned sequels for The Horns of Ruin, but I for one would absolutely be on board for more adventures through the streets of Ash.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reading Age: 15 and up
Tim Akers Website: http://shadoth.blogspot.com/
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