Travels in the Dark (The Dreadbound Ode #3) by Jordan Loyal Short Book Review

Write on: Thu, 03 Mar 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 472


The Dreadbound Ode series is a fascinating space opera fantasy series that deals with a dark future where humanity has regressed to barbarity despite maintaining space travel. The old evils of slavery, religious persecution, imperialism, and autocratic rule are all alive with technology having regressed to the point that very few people seem to be aware of how it works. It's very similar to the Warhammer 40K universe in some respects, though a far more serious story.

TRAVELS IN THE DARK is the climax of the series and deals with a lot more fantastic elements than the previous ones did. It deals with a journey through the Underworld, the rise of ancient gods, and conflicts between feuding wizards over who will be the inheritors of the Earth. I admit I am a bit saddened that we got away from the human evils of ruthless pirates and crooked slavers to more gradiose fantasy concepts. Jordan Loyal Short has a gift for depicting the foulness of regular humanity and something is lost with its focus on supreme supernatural beings.

Despite this, the book is an excellent ending to the series as the author gets deep into the heads of his three protagonists as well as the horrifying lengths all of them are willing to go to in order to achieve their goals. I always liked the world Jordan Loyal Short built over his protagonists but he manages to reverse it here. Each of them has crossed the Rubicon in terms of doing evil deeds to do good (or fulfill their dreams) and that makes it pretty unique in fantasy.

Lyssa starts the book dead, which is an uncomfortable position for her to be in. The afterlife is a horrifying place of regrets and relived memories that she is struggling to navigate. Lyssa believes she can escape but everyone she meets pretty much confirms how much worse she's making her situation. We also get her frustration with the fact she wanted to be anything other than a wife and mother yet all of her attempts to be a daring space opera heroine ended up in horrifying failure. She also regrets how she treated Bohr, a man who is dangerously obsessed with bringing her back from the dead with necromancy.

Hennik's situation has managed to both improve and become worse as he's no longer a slave but he's considered the Prophet of Tyrus (mostly due to Tyrus saying so). Unfortunately, Hennik doesn't believe in Tyrus and is surrounded by all of the cultists who have abandoned their worship of the god in order to embrace his enemy's design. Hennik has enslaved the soul of a child to give him a magical boost and loathes the evil of the act even as he needs it to provide him a weapon against his enemies.

The afterlife is the best part of this book and reminds me more of Wraith: The Oblivion than Warhammer 40K. It is an utterly terrible place with eldritch abominations, realms carved from your imagination, and prisons for the worst of humanity. It's a place with no ruler and the damned are not sent there out of any moral judgement but because they're dragged there. Its arguably questionable that anyone isn't damned in this terrible place.

In conclusion, this is a solid and entertaining fantasy series with a lot of bleak elements as well as excellent writing. If you liked the first two books, you'll like this as well but I kind of regret we didn't stick more with the awful "normal" society of Jordan Loyal Short's universe. Still, if you like your fantasy dark and terrifying then this is perfect.

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Last modified on Thursday, 03 March 2022 21:22
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.