New Book Review 36: Demorn: Soul Fighter

demorn 3The next indie book review I’m doing is for David Finn’s sci-fi fantasy space opera all-around actionfest, Demorn: Soul Fighter. This is the third book of the Demorn series, and I reviewed the first and second of them last year. Those reviews can be found here and here.

As a quick refresher on the premise, Demorn, the Wandering Princess of Swords, is a witty (and sometimes nihilistic) young woman who has time-travelled, space-travelled, and dimension-travelled throughout a multiverse that’s crumbling under the weight of imminent cosmic calamity. She is an extraordinary fighter, making use of guns, fists, a supernatural flaming katana, and a variety of magical objects gifted to her by gods and other entities in her wide and varied travels. She has been a priestess, arena fighter, and presently a mercenary. She also really loves comic books, and is good friends with Frank Sinatra, who happens to be a leader in a resistance against cosmic baddies.

Each of the Demorn books has had a common difficulty. In their freneticism and dimension-jumping and panache, they are confusing as hell. They’re all packed with action which is so well-written and so detailed that it’s a beauty to read, but keeping track of the plot is always challenging. In Soul Fighter, a catastrophe called the Fracture Event has torn apart the multiverse, erasing past timelines and sending beings from one dimension into another, wreaking all kinds of havoc. Members of a cultish organization called the Triton Corporation initiated the Fracture Event for diabolical purposes involving wicked cosmic gods (fans of H.P. Lovecraft will recognize the concept). Demorn starts in a Las Vegas-like metropolis called Bay City, where she competes in Soul Fight tournaments. Each fighter carries several mystical skulls which contain a soul, enabling them to fight and die multiple times. The loser of a fight has their soul-skulls taken away by a Death Banker, shadowing persons with their own motives and allegiances. From this setting, Demorn turns from gladiator to assassin to hunt down one Death Banker who means to release a cross-dimensional plague on the city. This sets her on a path to encounter an old friend and sometimes enemy, Iverson, an operative and detective-like character with whom she embarks on a quest to find the Reset Pyramid, which will enable them to reset time and avert the Fracture Event. Along the way they encounter former friends and rivals and lovers (Demorn, I nearly forgot to mention, is a lesbian), including Demorn’s brother Smile, her former co-priestess Toxis, her former lover Winter, the powerful warriors Wolf and Wrecking Ball, and the white-collar foes within the Triton Corporation. This book also has a brief appendix to help keep track of all the characters, factions, and magical items in the series.

I can’t stress enough that despite how confusing these books are, I love them. Each of them has been an incredibly fun read, and I’d highly recommend them for fans of sci-fi and fantasy.  Reflecting on the way the stories work, I see a lot of influence from comic books especially. With the variety of worlds and scenarios and the vivid descriptions, I’ve wondered if the books might be enriched if they were in fact graphic novels instead of prose novels. If the author ever does make a graphic novel of the series, I would be excited to read it, and I certainly look forward to the release of the fourth book in the series, titled Demorn: Ultimate Fate.

Now, once again, my bit of promo. If you are a fan of fantasy, you can look into my own book, Tales of Cynings Volume I, in print format here or Kindle format here.

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New Book Review 35: Across the Realm: Life Always Finds A Way

Across the realm 1Again, I’ve gotten off track with these reviews, but again I’m trying to keep at it. This time, I’m reviewing Isobel Mitton’s novel Across the Realm: Life Always Finds A Way. This is the first of the space opera series ‘Across the Realm’, which includes a sequel titled Across the Realm: When Two Tribes Go to War.

When I was asked to read and review this book, I must admit to the cardinal sin of judging a book by its cover. The cover of the first edition looks unfortunately amateurish, and on the basis of that I assumed that I’d read the first twenty percent of this book and conclude that it wasn’t worth my time, as I’ve done for several other indie books. But, this book surprised me. The prose had some rocky points but overall was pretty good, there were relatively few editing errors, and the premise, while certainly out-there,  caught and kept my interest. It’s also noteworthy that more recent edition have a new and more professional cover, which I am including in this post.

The book is set in the year 2699. A cultural and physical divide has split the Earth into a northern “realm” and a southern “realm”, which have been at war for centuries. In the north humans live under strict racial segregation. Apart from space travel, they haven’t had a great many scientific breakthroughs since the 21st century, and their understanding of science, specifically biology, is distorted by their racial ideals. In the south, humans have radically altered into cybernetically enhanced telepathic superhumans who breathe argon and whose bodies are in some way composed of mystic energy. They are racially integrated and mixed, they live for centuries because disease has been eradicated, they have eliminated reproduction by growing embryos in tanks, and they worship their ancestors and Mother Earth, the source of their energy. Water is absolutely poisonous to them. A force field separates the north from the south and both sides seek to break through the force field and conquer the other side of it.

((((((((((((((((SPOILERS HERE IN THIS PARAGRAPH))))))))))))))))A convoluted Romeo-and-Juliet sort of situation develops between Greg, a man and high-ranking soldier from the north, and Naledi, a woman and elite warrior of the south when the two crash onto a planet together after a space battle. Prior to this Naledi received a vision in which she was instructed by her ancestors to restore the humanity of the South, which had deviated too far from natural humanity. Along with Greg and Naledi’s storyline, there are numerous other characters, fighters and spies and priestesses and scientists and so forth, all influencing the direction of the war. The book ends on a cliffhanger, with an enormous battle between the two sides about to begin.

As I said earlier, the premise is out there. Obviously the world and setting are not realistic. The science presented in the work is all nonsense, which we generally accept and overlook in space operas (midichlorians, anyone?). That being said, the story was so committed to its world and so detailed and specific in what it’s like and how it came to be that way that I couldn’t help but be impressed. Some of the character motivations were murky and strained credibility at times, but the main story arcs where engaging and intriguing, and I’m pleased to say that I quite enjoyed the book.

Fans of sci-fi and space opera and readers looking for something original and unique are likely to also enjoy this book.

Now, once again, my bit of promo. If you are a fan of fantasy, you can look into my own book, Tales of Cynings Volume I, in print format here or Kindle format here.