Demon's Reign by David Estes and Ben Galley
Right where do we begin with this book?
Well, I suppose it starts at the beginning! Obviously I am very aware of Ben Galley as a writer and have said previously that his writing reminds me why I like the fantasy genre so much. However, David Estes is a new name to me. I got this book after watching the two on Stephen Aryan's you tube channel (which if you haven't seen is well worth a watch.
So what's the book about?
Tarkosi Terelta is a nobody. A nobody who will save his world from demons and the hellfire they bring.
The third-born of a shamed family, Tarkosi's lot in life is to spend his days as a worker, feeding temperamental lancewings under a harsh master. His days in the bloodwood city of Shal Gara are full of drudgery, tedium, and pain, his own ambitions cast aside in the name of order.
That is until demons from a broken world invade the forest realm of The Swathe, and an accident born of violence and dark magic intertwines Tarkosi’s fate with the greatest among them.
Forced onto the frontlines of a war forgotten by history, Tarkosi must balance battling the royal demon bound to him with the rapid progression of the magical abilities its presence has bestowed. Risking everything, he will need to tread a thin line between hero and heretic to keep Shal Gara from falling into ruin and chaos.
Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Venom in this epic progression fantasy perfect for fans of Iron Prince, Cradle, and Kingfall.
Ok, I was going to do the obligatory introductory paragraph where I tell you that Demon's Reign is the new collaborative tale written by David Estes and Ben Galley, and how it's about a culture that lives in a giant tree, but I decided to skip all that bumpf and just tell you that I friggin love this book.
I mean it's got loads of magic, loads of Demons and then the story is full of adventure. What's not to like? Well, I tell you - absolutely nothing!
The story centres around Tarkosy Tarelta, the son of a disgraced member of one of the higher families of the tree city of Shal 'Gara. It seems that Tarkosy's (shortened to Tarko in the book) dad had some funny ideas and that when the sun darkens it will signify the return of demon kind who were once the scourge of all the blood woods. Well, not many people liked that and thought he was talking a load of old shite. Not only that, some people used it against Tarko's dad and subsequently sent his family plummeting down the branches. As a result Tarko has to find any work that he can, except that Tarko kind of rubs everyone the wrong way and is always getting the heave - ho from anything he does. Sometimes not his fault, sometimes it is.
For the first part of the book we are introduced to the main character and the social system that rules the bloodwood, how it is governed by something called the Bloodlaws which is basically a social structure where people are put into various roles, like warriors, workers, merchants etc etc, and how Tarko hates the system.
Now things take an interesting turn when Tarko gets entwined with a demon called Sersi, and he things become even more interesting when he gets involved with a beggar called Pel, Atalawe, the scholar/magician and Red Eye an earth magician.
This book was just so much fun from start to finish. The pace of the book never lets up and for a 600+ page book never once did it sag at any point. It just romps along with no let up. There's a cracking mix of action scenes and world building
The characters are great and you can't help but like all of them. Yes, there are a few of the familiar types of characters that as a fantasy fan you come to expect. However this is the skill of Ben Galley in that he does use themes and tones that are familiar bit does something new with them whilst keeping those recognisable aspects. It's like putting on a new coat that you are already quite comfortable in thank you very much.
And not only that, this book has introduced me to David Estes's writing (although I couldn't tell who wrote what as the writing from both authors is joined so seamlessly), who I had not read before, and will be checking out more of his books
I zipped through this book and the only way that it could be prised from my hands and ears (I did both the audio and the book) was when I had to go to sleep. I cannot wait for the next book.