The Sword Falls

A.J. Smith. Head of Zeus, $32.95 (496p) ISBN 978-1-78669-692-2
While Smith’s integration of Lovecraftian elements into a Game of Thrones–style world deserves credit for its ambition, the execution is lacking in his second Form and Void fantasy (after The Glass Breaks). The plot is classic, if not clichéd, epic fantasy: a sprawling battle for power between competing factions here focused on the fate of Prince Oliver Dawn Claw, the Protector of First Port, “where sits the Always King.” The prince expects to inherit that title after his ailing father’s death, viewing it as “the kind of burden that was impossible to walk away from.” As the book opens, Oliver has already survived one assassination attempt, and those behind it still plot his death. Tossing in elements from the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and Ambrose Bierce—including monstrous deities, worshippers of Dagon, and an island named Karcosa—doesn’t sufficiently transform the formulaic story line. The mythology of this imagined realm isn’t easily accessible for newcomers, and saddling characters with such unsubtle last names as Defiant and Cyclone makes suspending disbelief harder. Readers excited by the unexpected genre mash-up will hope for more of a payoff in the series finale. (May)
Reviewed on : 01/29/2021
Release date: 05/01/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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