Rend the Dark
An Echo of the Ascended – Ferran Book One
by Mark Gelineau and Joe King
Fantasy | Novella | 78 Pages | Published by Gelineau and King in 2015
This book was received from Netgalley in return for an honest review
My first venture into the world of Aedaron, and the work of Mark Gelineau and Joe King, was with A Reaper of Stone – a surprising and imaginative novella with all the flavour of a high fantasy epic in well under a hundred a pages. Leaving me with a distinct and favourable impression, I couldn’t wait to sample the next self-contained novella in the series and see if this duo could pull off another winning read.
And I needn’t have even questioned it! Rend the Dark is a dark fantasy epic condensed into a tight and action packed narrative. Exquisitely written and as beautiful as it is terrifying, this is novella which had me instantly reaching for the next Echo in what promises to be a lengthy and incredibly enjoyable foray into bite-sized fantasy.
The great Ruins are gone. The titans. The behemoths. All banished to the Dark and nearly forgotten. But the cunning ones, the patient ones remain. They hide not in the cracks of the earth or in the shadows of the world. But inside us. Wearing our skin. Waiting. Watching.
Once haunted by visions of the world beyond, Ferran now wields that power to hunt the very monsters that he once feared. He is not alone. Others bear the same terrible burden. But Hunter or hunted, it makes no difference. Eventually, everything returns to the Dark.
Rend the Dark follows the story of Ferran, a witch hunter – or acolyte of the Order of Talan – who is gifted with the ability to see the terrible Ruins of the world, Ruins which would otherwise remain hidden from human eyes. But whilst hidden, their darkness continues to spread across the lands where they thrive in the shadows and stalks the unwary; people are starting to disappear from towns and villages, strange tales haunt the marches, and very few can guess what truly hunts them.
Together with fellow acolyte Mireia; two magistrates of Greenhope, Riffolk and Hil; and a Warden; Ferran must track down the Ruins which prey upon the land and send them to the abyss – The fate of the people of Greenhope, and perhaps of the whole world, depends upon it. But things are never that simple…
In this next instalment, Aedaron is once again etched out in surprisingly rich detail and, whilst clearly a part of a whole, Rend the Dark is completely unique in tone and character and can be read as a stand alone novella. This is a tale which carries with it a far darker shadow than before, pushing it into the realms of dark fantasy horror; this is a land where nightmares and suspicions abound, and where monsters prey on the weak in full and Ruinous glory. The narrative offers a far more bleak and terrifying world than its predecessor, a world where hope is shrouded in mystery and doubt; and a world which is populated by the good and terrible in equal measure.
Once again I am thoroughly impressed (and a little mystified) that this dynamic duo can fit so much into so short a read. This is a novella which is saturated with threat, where descriptive and vivid depictions of its horrors unfold in a flurry of cinematic action, and where description and action blend seamlessly for a non-stop read from start to finish. Gelineau and King have succeeded in creating and building upon a world which is at once familiar, yet manages to retain its own distinctive – and extremely dark and gritty – flavour.
Rend the Dark, whilst hinting at its links to the alternative novellas, offers the reader a new set of characters to become utterly absorbed in. Ferran is an intriguing protagonist whose depth of character, along with his ‘weaknesses’, are exposed from the very start. His depiction is distinctive, his personality both likeable and mysterious, and he somehow manages to retain a compelling and enigmatic air which is incredibly enticing and most definitely leaves you wanting to find out more.
Although this is a Ferran novella, equal playtime is also given to his companions in arms. These characters are given their own third person perspective in which to engage the reader, and do so with great success. Hil and Riffolk, the two Magistrates of Greenhope, are much like the reader in this novella – they are the laymen, the ordinary folk who go by in life and don’t see the darkness at its edges – and as such, their narrative allows the reader to gain an equal footing from the start. It is characters such as these that truly connect the reader to the story.
A Reaper of Stone showcased skilled active description and fantastic worldbuilding – two aspects which might otherwise have been lost over so short a narrative – but Rend the Dark blew me away. Skilled characterisation is combined with an incredible ability to effectively convey the horrors of the Ruinsin this fast paced and thrilling tale. Gelineau and King most certainly know how to make an impression.
The Echoes of the Ascended are a wonderful blend of a fully contained and bite-sized narrative set against an open world where enough of the tale is left untold to make the reader keep coming back for more. I still find it hard to believe that so much can be packed into so short a read – and Rend the Dark certainly packed a punch. Do you have an hour or so to spare? Train journey? Lunch break? Gelineau and King have you covered. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next.