cover image The Dark Blood

The Dark Blood

A.J. Smith. Head of Zeus, $14.95 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-1-78185-228-6

Smith’s second epic fantasy novel (after The Black Guard) continues to chronicle the devastation of a meticulously described fantasy world as gods battle one another and drag their faithful followers along. Using multiple viewpoint characters, Smith weaves together the stories of a variety of people fighting the sorcerous Seven Sisters in their own ways, each with their own agendas. The Dokkalfar, nonhuman forest-dwellers, have confirmed that the Sisters are planning to raise the dreaded Forest Giant. The red knights have rained down destruction, supplemented by the hounds controlled by the Sisters. And the specter of the entities called the Dark Young continues to haunt both sides; they are used as weapons by some, and feared by all. Tinged with unexpected humor, the bloody and gleefully homicidal story unfolds at a surprisingly lugubrious pace given the amount of action. The large cast puts Smith in a bind: reminding the reader who the characters are bogs down the imaginative narrative in many places, but omitting that introduction leaves the reader backtracking in search of memory-joggers. However, the characters themselves are vividly depicted and practically leap off the page to chat with the reader. Agent: Diane Banks, Diane Banks Associates. (Dec.)