I have to admit, I approached this book with some concern. I have greatly enjoyed every book I’ve read by Larry Correia, which is all of them, but all of his books prior to Son of the Black Sword take place in worlds very much like our own. Monster Hunter International is in our world, but with all of the legendary monsters we grew up fearing. The Grimnoir books are what our 1930s might have looked like, if people started gaining magical gifts in the 1800s. Even the Dead Six books, with Mike Kupari, are our world, if perhaps a small step into our future. All of these world are easily understood and relatable. The characters are very much like people we all know, with the same experiences and backgrounds to which we ourselves can relate. So the thought of Larry going into a completely new direction, a fantasy world that he has designed from the ground (or sea) up… Honestly, I was a bit concerned that it might (just maybe) be more than he can handle.
Wow. Was I wrong.
Son of the Black Sword introduces us to Ashok Vadal, Protector of the Law. In a world were all have their assigned place, and demons rise from the seas, the Protectors are given magic and authority to stop the depredations of the demons, and enforce the Law at any cost.
A single Protector could be a match for a riot, an uprising, or even a demon, but even among the Protectors, Ashok is powerful. He is unquestioning in his enforcement of Law and custom, devoted to the mission of the order, and would be considered among the most dangerous even when not bearing a powerful, magical sword.
But what would happen if the most dedicated servant of the Law found that his whole existence was prohibited by the very Law he upheld? What if his life and memories, and even his very dedication to the Law itself was nothing but a lie, a construct forced on him?
Trapped by his own unswerving dedication, Ashok is declared an outlaw and imprisoned, and the Order of the Inquisition forces a sentence on him that causes him to betray the very society that he had defended his whole life. As Ashok is forced to confront his black and white world, he is shocked to discover that not everything is black and white, and not everything within the sway of the Law is just. The consequences of which lead him to a path of rebellion, war and a return of the forbidden gods.
As I said, I was initially concerned about Larry Correia, famous and successful for writing urban fantasy and what he cheerfully refers to as “Pulp”, writing pure fantasy in a world of his own creation. But as I always seem to be after reading one of his books, I was incredibly satisfied with the finished product. He has built as complex and original a world as any in the fantasy market. In all honesty, probably a lot more original than most. He has populated it with believable characters placed into extraordinary circumstances. All of the characters are understandable and sympathetic, even the ones that you are not cheering along. He has written incredibly good action sequences and he’s done it without a single firearm present.
So after all is said and done, if you haven’t picked up on it so far, I highly recommend this book, not just to Correia fans, but to any fan of good fantasy. I couldn’t wait, so I bought the Advanced Reader Copy from the fine folks at Baen.com (I swear, it’s like they deal in crack. I look over my bookshelf, both real and e-copy, and I see an awful lot of Baen logos…) and it’ll cost you $15.00. If you are more patient, and love the real books, the Hardcover version will be released 27 October and currently, they are asking 18.63 on Amazon. They are calling it an Epic new fantasy series, I cannot disagree.