The people of Mt. Takayubi, and especially the Matsuda family, have always been the first line of defence for the Kaigenese Empire. But the Empire, and the family; expect obedience, not the questions some find themselves confronting.
The Councilate seeks to control its territory by any means; legal, political or by force of arms. Its leaders believe in what they're doing but what does it mean for those under their dominion?
When a relative of the King is found butchered in what looks like a magic ritual; war hero, physician and King’s Champion Sir Brannon is tasked with discovering the truth behind the murder and finding those responsible.
“I was almost fourteen and had just started my menses when my parents sold me to the Illuminati.”
Well, it is obvious from the start that you are in for an exciting ride.
For my final SPFBO5 review, I’m tackling The Charismatics, a steampunk romance following a young woman and her spirit animal through the political and socioeconomic intrigue of a fantasy land.
"We thundered out of the stables as if hell itself were on our tail. We made an unlikely band, us three disparate souls; the monster, Smidgen, the demon, Bent, and me, the thief, Flendin the Blade. My life hadn't been the same since leaving Never."
SINCE NEVER opens with the protagonist waking up in bed with a woman that he's murdered. It is a strong opening that stretches through the grimdark novel from beginning to end. The blackly humorous opening has Flendin the Blade summon his best friend Smidgen to eat the body and cover it up. If that strikes you as a very impressive opening then this is probably the book for you. It is a darkly humorous and has a lot of fun scenes.
Assaph Mehr’s entry into this year’s contest has a bit of Latin flair, and more than a bit of actual Latin. In Numina is set in Egretia, a nation akin to a magical Ancient Rome. This oversimplification doesn’t do the setting justice; In Numina’s attention to detail and clearly well-researched worldbuilding are impressive, and make for an unexpectedly fun fantasy.
THE EMPEROR'S HARVEST is a story that deals with many classic themes of a home village coming under attack, destiny, chosen ones, an evil tyrant, and an elderly wizard trying to educate our hero. It does it with a great deal of panache, though, as well as a seriousness that makes the story all the stronger.