This novel, set in a pseudo-medieval fantasy world à la Fritz Leiber’s iconic Nehwon realm, is a fast-paced, fun read that should appeal to fans of adventure and sword-and-sorcery fantasy.
The storyline revolves around two brothers, Taurwin and Sorram, who awake to find themselves buried as if dead. Smelling of rotting corpses, they unearth each other and begin to unravel the mystery of their situation. The last thing Sorram remembers is that Krotus—one of the most powerful battle mages in the empire—told him that this would be their last test; if they survived, they passed. Malodorous and hungry, they set off to hunt down some sustenance and some soap!
Meanwhile, unable to pay the high taxes for their farm, Jerhod and his family have just been evicted. Homeless and hopeless, they meet up with other dispossessed families and struggle mightily to formulate a plan that will lead them to food and shelter. That’s when Jerhod encounters the two brothers in the woods. He is immediately taken aback by their appearance: Their bodies are covered in scars, their teeth are sharp, and they’re extraordinary hunters. They quickly come up with a mutually beneficial deal—some soap for two recently killed deer—and the brothers decide to accompany the homeless families to the empire’s capital city. There, they begin to unravel the mystery of their bizarre existence.
Powered by a duo of dynamic characters, this novel is the beginning of what could be an excellent series, depending on where the author decides to take the storyline and how deeply he delves into the potentially profound themes surrounding the two unlikely heroes (the inner conflict between their human nature and animalistic instincts, the examination of what it means to be human, etc.). The story suffers from minor editorial flaws, including awkward sentence structure at points and some conspicuous typos, but overall the narrative provides a strong start to a potentially extraordinary series.
Also available as an ebook.