Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: City of Scars

*Received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

It’s been three decades since the Blood Queen led her legions on a brutal campaign of conquest and destruction, and the Empires are still struggling to rebuild. Now, in the distant aftermath of the war, the real battle is about to begin.

Haunted by the crimes of his past, fallen knight Azander Dane ekes out a mercenary existence as he drifts from one city to the next. His latest job is to hunt down Ijanna Taivorkan, a powerful outlaw witch desperate to escape her destiny.

Dane and Ijanna find themselves in Ebonmark, the City of Scars, where deadly crime guilds and shadowy agents of the White Dragon Empire prepare for a brutal confrontation. Pursued by apocalypse cults, mad alchemists, exiled giants and werewolf gangs, Dane and Ijanna soon learn a deadly lesson – in Ebonmark, only the cruelest and most cunning can survive.

City of Scars is the first volume of The Skullborn Trilogy, an all new epic fantasy adventure from the author of Blood Skies .

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My Review

City of Scars is this amazing fantasy story that takes you back to a time where things were ruled by magic and wars were fought at the end of a sword. A time where you would think that things were more simple, but you would be wrong. There is a war brewing in Ebonmark and our amazing hero, Dane is right in the thick of it. Even if he doesn't realize it at first.

When Dane first enters Ebonmark he is desperate for money and desperate for work. So needless to say he doesn't exactly listen to his own instincts when they tell him that he shouldn't take the job that the gorgeous woman is offering. And again he ignores his instincts when he realizes who the job is really for, the Black Guild, just one of the cartels vying for control over Ebonmark. But Dane doesn't back down from a challenge, any challenge. So, he rightly accepts the job that very well may end his own life; the job of hunting down the Dream Witch, Ijanna.

In his journey to find Ijanna, Dane faces both vicious man and creature alike. In City of Scars, Steven Montano delivers both amazing human characters with intense and incredible skill and development, but he also gives us amazing creatures that only an epic fantasy could deliver, from vicious cross-bred Trolls, monstrous humans called Chul, Arkan the monstrous race of creatures that strives to enslave other species and many more. And they are described perfectly, with just enough detail to allow your imagination to run wild. And it will.

Steven Montano never ceases to amaze me with his ability to create wonderful and different ways to use magic and worlds that both deliver darkness and hope. The hope comes from amazing characters that despite the darkness that surrounds them have a never ending drive to survive and be better.

Dane for example, has done and seen some pretty heinous things in his career as a Dawn Knight. His past haunts him and part of him doesn't think he can be a good man anymore, but somewhere along the way he decides to change his path and does what is surly to deliver an amazing story for the other two books in the trilogy. There are beautiful moments throughout this story where Dane really demonstrates his true character and you know just how amazing he really is. Not only does he have amazing character he is totally a grade A kick butt dude who wields not only a sword but magic as well.

Then of course you have Ijanna, the woman of the hour. The witch that everyone wants. Though we don't know much about who Ijanna is, we do know that she is running from her destiny and it is one that she will do anything to prevent. With the help of friends she attempts to escape Ebonmark and the claws of those who hunt her there. In the case of Ijanna you could sort of look at her like the damsel in distress, only she happens to be able to handle herself quite nicely. But she does need saving, the question is whom will be her savior?

City of Scars is a great fantasy that will instantly take you away to a place of magic, amazing worlds and dark and fierce creatures. City of Scars is definitely a must read story and promises you an adventure like no other. It will keep you guessing until the very end and will leave you thirsting for more as you yearn for the next installment. With City of Scars, Steven Montano delivers a world where even in the dark there is a glimmer of hope as long as you are fierce enough to take it.

"He watched the Dawn Knight and the Voss as they went, the unlikeliest duo he'd ever seen, and found himself impressed with their resolve. They stepped into the great hall and hacked through Phage soldiers with relentless fury." (Pdf., p. 292).

I chose this moment because it is just one of the moments that shows us a glimmer of hope. There are others of course, but sharing those wouldn't be fair :)

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