cover image Kagen the Damned

Kagen the Damned

Jonathan Maberry. Griffin, $18.99 trade paper (560p) ISBN 978-1-250-78397-4

Stoker Award winner Maberry (Ghost Road Blues) launches his Kagen the Damned series with this gripping, if somewhat anticlimactic, dark fantasy. Kagen Vale, captain of the Silver Empire’s Imperial Guard, is horribly hungover when the Hakkian army attacks the empire, killing his family and the Empress. With the empire now in the hands of the Hakkian Witch-king, Gethon Heklan, who harbors dark magic, the humiliated Kagen plunges into despair and guilt. But as the Witch-king’s coronation draws near, a group of underground revolutionaries scrambles for ways to overthrow the usurper, even dabbling with forbidden magic. Now, vowing vengeance against the Witch-king, Kagen embarks on a quest to climb the Tower of Sarsis and retrieve a fabled artifact. Maberry takes his time building the suspense, maneuvering his characters through a vivid world peppered with figures from European folklore and monsters from the Cthulhu mythos. The final twist, however, offers more questions than answers. Still, fantasy readers will be spellbound by the intricate worldbuilding and the delightful cast. This is a promising start. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (May)