Saturday, May 23, 2015

Non-Smoking, please

I was a bit concerned when I picked up Kelly McCullough's sort of most recent Fallen Blade novel, Drawn Blades, mainly because it's book 5 in the series, and his other series, WebMage, ended after 5 novels.

Thankfully, as we find out after this one ends, there is indeed a 6th one that evidently got released this month.

None of which is helpful here, beyond letting readers know that Aral's adventures will continue.


We rejoin Aral in the city of Tien not long after the end of the last book;s tales of government restructuring. To that end, Aral is back again sitting at his favorite bar (although he's now sober) when a smokey ghost forms from the tavern fire, looking nothing so much like Siri, one of the other blades who's nickname was Mythkiller. Siri's avatar performs a pantomime ceremony of handfasting, leaving Aral with a rather interesting ring made of smoke on the 3rd finger of his left hand.

After an attack by a mythic beast and some assistance from Aral's librarian contact and his familiar, contact is made with Siri through smoke again, and the end result Faran and Aral are off to The Sylvani Empire. Which is an adventure in and of itself, since in quite possibly the most unique way of gaining travel speed, they wind up traveling by Dukoth as far south as the Wall. (Note here: The Dukoth are a race of First Ones who are more or less Elemental Earth. Aral's smoke ring gets their attention, and the need to speed Aral and Faran across the land.) Along the way, we learn more of the First Ones, races created by the gods prior to humans. Seems the First Ones rebelled again being slaves to the gods, and there was a war in Heaven. The gods won. As such, most of the First Ones live behind the Wall that separates the Empire from the human lands. Mind you, a few of the First Ones rose to a level near Godhood and were punished to be buried and never dying. One of the Buried Ones was dealt with by Siri before these novels began, thus her title of Mythkiller.

However, due to magical principles and a dead goddess, when we finally meet Siri in the flesh, we find out her smoky nature is due to her becoming part of the binding holding The Smoldering Flame in his burial. Namara, before she died, helped keep his influence over Siri in check, but after the Emperor of Heaven killed Namara, the binding weakened a bit, giving Siri and her Shade some smoke overlap.

Not longer after the touching reunion and consummation of wedding vows as part of the deeper magics, Kelos enters the picture, making for a Namara's disciples reunion from Hell. Kelos is working to find a key that will resurrect a god before the Son of Heaven finds it, and before one of the Buried Ones finds it and tries to use it.

There's much going on in this book, including filling in much of the metaphysics of the world. things like the true nature of the blades Namara gave her acolytes, the nature of the Son of Heaven and his end goals, and the rather fractured relationship between Kelos and Aral and Kelos and Siri.

I reserved the new one this evening, and I look forward to seeing where this goes next. McCullough may miss a few dangling plot threads (like the attack by the mythic beast that never really gets explained), but his world building is nothing less than spectacular.

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