I’m far, far, far overdue to review this book, and the only excuse I have is a hell of a lot happened all at once between me starting and finishing it and immediately after, and I’ve only just had the clarity of mind to write a review that would do her work justice.
This is the second of Spencer’s books I’ve read, and the true start of her Rhenwars Saga, my first foray into her world being Darkstorm, which I thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year.
Darkmage, I found however, outstrips it a fair bit in my eyes. Despite being written prior to Darkstorm, I found Spencer’s writing a great deal more rich and mature in this book. Part of me wonders if this is due to it being a fair bit lengthier and simply allowing herself time to grow and toy with her characters, who are, as in Darkstorm, at the very forefront of her writing.
Again, a high fantasy epic with a distinctive grimdark twist through its characters’ questionable motives and actions, I found the level of thought and depth to Spencer’s world to be continually impressive, and I’m envious of her ability to build both nations and magic systems in such detail. Especially without stumbling over them, as is easy to do so when creating something of such grinding complexity.
I’ve often felt Spencer’s work will appeal to a range of fantasy enthusiasts, with her ability to weave grimdark assholery into a sprawling high fantasy tapestry that, if tropes are to be believed, should be populated by bland, uninspired white knights and big titty elf princesses trying to save the world because save the world.
A great book, especially for the start of a series, and I’m looking forward to getting around to Darklands when I (eventually) get through a couple of other books in my TBR.