Fury of a Demon is an amazing finale to this incredible trilogy, one I didn’t want to end.
That feeling you get when you have such high expectations for something and it absolutely delivers!
I’m currently riding on that slowly descending wave of bittersweet contentment in having finished this trilogy, and the excellent Fury of a Demon to close it off.
Being a blogger brings its challenges, frustrations and obligations. Alot of the time it’s pretty fun, though. And sometimes, it’s actually a massive bloody privilege – this is one of those times and I have to say a huge thankyou to Black Crow, UK Tor, Stephen Haskins and of course Brian Naslund for the opportunity to read this arc and participate in the blog tour here.
Anything Brian Naslund writes in the future is an instant-buy from me and I have to say until now I never understood why someone would want to re-read a series when there are new books to start on. Now I do. I am utterly convinced this is a trilogy I will revisit again and again.
So, why do I love it so much and why did Fury of a Demon solidify my feelings about this series and about Brian Naslund’s ability?
I’ve spoken many times about the initial and continued appeal – the exciting characters, the mix of old world fantasy with inventive technology, the use of dragons in a real ecosystem, the care painted into the brush strokes of the created world.
I’ll start on characters. I’m not someone who goes crazy for characters unless they really stand out – I’m someone who shamefully forgets the characters’ names in alot of books and cares more for the world and the plot. Naslund is just such an expert at making you remember, making you care.
Osyrus Ward and Vergun are just delightfully bad again here and you really do love to hate them – Ward for his cold and calculated, Thanos-like outlook – his own power and idealism above all, no matter the consequence; Vergun for his pure malice and unapologetic evil.
A theme running through the series but particularly prevalent here is revenge – there are grudges everywhere which makes so many of the character interactions so exciting. There are plenty of palm rubbing moments as the fates of various characters take them across their enemy’s paths, intentionally or not.
Of course, Bershad really lives up to his titular description and continues his upward trajectory of a great killer to an almost unstoppable one. What I love about this though is that in almost a video game way, as Bershad gets stronger, Ward continues getting sharper. Those war acolytes are pretty brutal, too! With each conflict you don’t know whether he or Bershad and his allies will come out on top and that’s particularly exciting.
Bershad hogs some of the limelight, and rightfully so because he’s such a brilliant character, but Ashlyn isn’t going to let him take all the badass moments. I like that through much of the book she’s still coming to terms with and learning from the past, while trying to gauge her own power and how it can be used in the right way. Often this culminates in utter bone shattering destruction. For me, it feels more of a battle of Osyrus Ward Vs Ashlyn Malgrave for much of the story, not Silas Bershad – even if they aren’t directly facing off all the time.
To be honest, there are a number of characters who take up prominent roles in the story you could argue are main characters – returning favourites and new characters too. Nola’s chapters were fantastic, for example.
Something that struck me while going through my thoughts at the end of the book: I never once thought, “yawn, it’s such and such a character’s chapter” – I was equally interested in all of them and that’s something the author is really successful in doing, not only making you care but making everyone have an equally interesting and personal story to tell, whilst the storylines converge with one another.
Or course, dragons play a big role in the story again and I love Bershad’s telepathic sort of relationship with ‘Smokey’ – not named by him, of course. There are dragons, but there are skyships. There are swords and longbows, and there are diagnostic machines and mechanical inventions. The contrast of old school fantasy with sci-fi elements really kicks on here and it’s one that felt really polished. The book always felt like a fantasy book to me, but it felt like there were blends of different sub genres and as mentioned, bordering in places on sci-fi with technology we don’t yet possess.
I think what keeps this grounded in fantasy is that the technology is often powered somewhat by magic – or what we would class as magic based on the lack of the raw materials available in our world to create these inventions.
On science, the ecosystem again plays a part and there were parallels with the Vietnam war – the Balarian invaders succumbing to the conditions of the Dainwood whilst struggling to deal with the guerilla warfare of the Jaguar Wardens. Tactics play a big role and it’s fascinating to watch play out as Ward begins to lose patience, attempting a more provocative route to victory.
It goes without saying that Naslund’s smooth, immersive writing style is as strong as ever. His books have that quality rarely felt, where your brain tells you to turn the pages on autopilot and you forget you’re actually reading a book. There is a particularly harrowing scene that takes place in a big pen that while horrifically creepy was so entrancing.
The dialogue is spot on and you really get a feel for the characters’ distinct individual voices, even characters introduced and killed off soon after. It makes it a joy to meet any character in the book because they’re all unique and well written.
As well as this, I really like how sometimes the POV shifts with chapters taking place within the same event, with varying degrees of length. Sometimes short chapters are effective, sometimes longer ones work best and Naslund always makes the right decision, both in deciding which POV to show us, and how much of it we see through their eyes at any given moment.
I’m delighted that a series I love so much continued the top class story, character work and fantastic feeling of overall quality until the very end and never once let me down.
I’m genuinely gutted it’s over as I’m going to be bold enough to say… I think this might be my favourite series. I really do.
Every single page has been a pleasure, and I read two of these books at a time I needed an escape to an exciting new world and a bit of a pick-me-up, which they duly delivered. This trilogy really needs to be widely read and become a success, because it’s so brilliant, the author deserves recognition. And secondly, because we need more books by Brian Naslund.
Blood of an Exile had the originality factor, a book that made me sit back and say ‘wow!’ – a really exciting fantasy book.
Sorcery of a Queen raised the stakes while adding more of the wacky alchemy and inventions that gives the series a distinctive comic book quality to layer over the heroic fantasy at its heart.
Fury of a Demon keeps all of the good bits of the other two and gives the reader everything they could possibly want – namely a polished and expertly written story that feels like a fitting conclusion to a trilogy that is heartfelt, action packed, colourful and full of personality.
Thankyou Brian for writing such an amazing trilogy that I adore.
War makes monsters of us all…
The war against Osyrus Ward goes poorly for Bershad and Ashlyn. They are pinned in the Dainwood by monstrous alchemical creations and a relentless army of mercenaries, and running out of both options and allies.
The Witch Queen struggles with her new powers, knowing that the secret of unlocking her dragon cord is key to stopping Ward’s army, she pushes forward with her experiments.
Meanwhile, with every wound Bershad suffers, he gets closer to losing his humanity forever, and as the war rages, the exile turned assassin turned hero isn’t even sure if being human is something he wants.