Sunday, November 20, 2016

Book Review: NIGHTWISE, by R.S. Belcher

R.S. Belcher
Tor Books

What is a Nightwise? Best I can tell, it is an honorable assistant of knight-magicians. They are tasked with protecting the world from evil threats.

And I hate, hate when reviewers compare an author's character to some other author's character. Hate it. Now, with that said, Belcher has created a main character in Laytham Ballard that is similar -- like -- Butcher's Dresden ... but on meth. With sever anger issues. And selfishness. And almost unlikeable.

Ballard's long time . . . I guess you could call him a friend; his one-time partner, Branko Boj, is dying. The man has one last wish. Long ago Boj's wife was kidnapped, tortured for months, until finally he was murdered. All these years Boj has been unable to make pay the man responsible. And although Ballard wants nothing to do with any of it, Boj is responsible for saving his life. Countless times. Reluctantly, the wizard agrees.

As it turns out, Dusan Slorzack is a war criminal. He's wanted by more than just Boj from the acts the horrible man committed. The problem is, Ballard is having trouble finding him. The only thing that give him any direction is the dead banker. The brutal murder scene wasn't so much for punishing the banker as it was to send Ballard a "back off this investigation" message. Despite the message, the warning, Ballard doesn't back off, he now has a solid place to start digging for answers.

Laytham Ballard is a wizard. In the Wisdom, as his grandmother called it, and quite powerful. He is legendary in the magic world. The problem is his personality rots. He is not trustworthy, or friendly. He cares about himself, and little else. He'll do what needs doing to get something done with little regard for anyone else. And that part of his legend is known to all, as well. So when Ballard goes looking for help, few are excited about lending assistance.

With joy missing from an iced over, and blackened heart, Ballard may not know it, but he's the villain desperate to become the hero. NIGHTWISE is filled with constant hints, and nods toward an entire series of Ballard tales (fingers crossed).

NIGHTWISE is dark. Gritty. It has a noir-style, dripping with cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity. R.S. Belcher did some amazing world building between the branches of magic, the layered dimensions, the diversification of beings, and the maps connecting it all. Wow. Thing is, he has the talent as a writer to keep it simple. Followable. There's no getting lost. Belcher guides the reader smoothly from haunting horror, to haunting horror with grace, and a knotted stomach.

Intense and exciting, dark and daunting, NIGHTWISE was a very fantastical mystery!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series, and
The Vaccination Trilogy

No comments:

Post a Comment