Kalanon’s Rising – Darian Smith


Kalanon’s Rising – Darian Smith

Solve the murder. Stop the war. Save the world.

Sir Brannon Kesh spent years building a new life as a physician, leaving the name Bloodhawk and the war that spawned it behind. But when the King’s cousin is murdered, duty calls him back. The crime scene suggests dark magic and the evidence points to the ambassador of Nilar, an alluring woman with secrets of her own, who sees Bloodhawk as little more than a war criminal.

As bodies pile up and political ramifications escalate, Brannon must join forces with a vain mage, a socially awkward priest, and a corpse animating shaman to solve the murders and prevent another war. But who can he trust when the phases of a bigger plan take shape?
The Risen are the greatest danger Brannon has ever faced. If he and his team cannot stop the killer then all of Kalanon – and the world – will descend into darkness.

Winner of the SpecFicNZ Novel Competition

I picked this up because I saw a positive review of it on the website for SpecFicNZ, an organisation that both the author and I belong to. (We’re acquainted in real life.)

I wasn’t disappointed; it’s a compelling, twisty mystery in a high-fantasy setting, with well-developed characters. I completely failed to guess the identity of the antagonist, which was great.

I’ve shelved it as “deserves-better-editing,” which is the tag I use for well-told stories that are a bit scruffy around the edges as regards copy editing. It suffers from Jackson Pollock commas, the occasional missing quotation mark, and a few homonym slips and typos, and “may” instead of “might” when the rest of the sentence is in past tense; but nothing too egregious, and it managed to hold my attention and enjoyment despite these minor flaws. I had no issues with the story craft at all.

Overall, a promising start to what could be a good series.

 

This book review is by Mike Reeves-McMillan and originally appeared on Goodreads. Mike writes the Gryphon Clerks novels, a series featuring heroic civil servants and engineers doing their best in a difficult world; the Auckland Allies contemporary urban fantasy series, about underpowered magical practitioners stepping up to defend their city when nobody else will; and the Hand of the Trickster sword-and-sorcery series, in which a servant of the trickster god exalts the humble and humbles the exalted. His short stories have appeared in a number of professional and semiprofessional venues, including the Terry Pratchett tribute anthology In Memory.