But we don't all have time to read eighteen billion pages about dinners and people getting their limbs chopped off, as good as said descriptions may be. That's why the stand-alone fantasy novel, or even just stand alone novel in general that is good is a rare find.
But today I am bringing you one very such thing. A stand alone novel in a unique world with awesome central-asian trappings that you can grab, read, and put down, happy with the experience. Remember that as always if you don't feel like reading it, there's the One Word Review down and the Buy/Wait/Dont at the bottom.
I bring you:
Amazon blurb: And long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, the seven devils, who had deceived and possessed seven of the greatest wizards of the world, were defeated and bound with the help of the Old Great Gods...
And perhaps some of the devils are free in the world, and perhaps some are working to free themselves still…
In a land where gods walk on the hills and goddesses rise from river, lake, and spring, the caravan-guard Holla-Sayan, escaping the bloody conquest of a lakeside town, stops to help an abandoned child and a dying dog. The girl, though, is the incarnation of Attalissa, goddess of Lissavakail, and the dog a shape-changing guardian spirit whose origins have been forgotten. Possessed and nearly driven mad by the Blackdog, Holla-Sayan flees to the desert road, taking the powerless avatar with him.
Necromancy, treachery, massacres, rebellions, and gods dead or lost or mad, follow hard on the their heels. But it is Attalissa herself who may be the Blackdog’s—and Holla-Sayan’s—doom.
Alright, lets get down to some brass tacks here. This book rules. It's great. While a few snippets of dialogue felt a little unnatural to me, and a few of the descriptions had to be given a double-take, the book is well written, and as is always important to me, the world is cohesive and real. It definitely feels like a place you could go to. Additionally, the concept of gods for everything is taken to an excellent level, with various spirits of the earth and world mixing with regular gods and devil wizards, it's all pretty fabulous. My only complaint is that we didn't get to see enough of the world and its history, but it is a stand-alone novel. You just have to let those things go sometimes.
Johansen clearly loves his/her (I didn't look at the picture or author bio) clothing because everyone is pretty richly described, with a variety of clothing items I absolutely do not recognize. So good job, fantasy!
There's a number of POVs in this story, and each one has a distinct voice that carries across a different element of the world, which I really appreciated. This a dense book that reads like a light one. You never feel bombarded with infodumps or anything like that. The background history and magic system are all explained in very real, tangible scenes with action rather than passive description. The back and forth personality duo of the Blackdog and Holla-Sayan is great, and I love the internal fights between him and the dog. Not to mention the fabulous styles. Everything in this book feels very stylish, and I really jivved with the world's theme.
My only real complaint was that Johansen sets it up early that there really can't be any interaction between the MC and the antagonist until the climax of the story. It's explained why there really can't be any back and forth action, and it makes sense, but it's unfortunate that the plot played out that way, because I thought the antagonist needed more real screen time. There's a lot of "here's these good guys, here's these good guys, here's these OTHER good guys they all have their own different plots or whatever but they're all coming to kill this one bad guy!"
I know, it's a standalone, and to get the amount of information out there that you want and deal with all these different plots you gotta cut some stuff, but I would have preferred fewer Good Guy POVs and more Bad Guy scenes. A few close shaves with the Bad Guy personally would have made me happier. But this is a good book, and if you're just looking for one novel to gulp down and not have it turn into a series, this is definitely one to grab.
ONE WORD REVIEW: VIVID B/W/D: BUY