One of the best things about being a reviewer for a literary magazine is that you'll continuously be in a position to discover new and exciting authors. The thing is that there's an impossible amount of books out there so it's often hard to commit yourself to works of someone new, especially if it is a series and there's plenty of familiar authors to read. There's simply limited amount of time in life so what you quickly learn to do is to trust editor's recommendations when it comes to new stuff. Over the years Col Buchanan's works were highlighted to me from more than a few people whose taste in book I respect immensely so when a chance came to review the entire trilogy I was absolutely thrilled. “The Black Dream”, third novel in the series is coming out on 12th March but let's start at the very beginning - with “Farlander”.
Buchanan's debut introduces us to Ash, world weary and ailing assassin whose career is nearing its end. But just not yet. From the streets of Bar-Khos he takes on an apprentice called Nico. Bar-Khos is a city under siege by the Holy Empire of Mann and even ten years later the conflict is nowhere near resolution. Ash and Nico embark to reach Sato, monastery hidden in the Cheem mountains which serves as a seat for a shadowy order of assassins who provide insurance for their clients – Roshun. When a woman protected by Roshun is murdered by Holy Empire of Mann 's leader Holy Matriarch's son, Roshun's wheels are fast in motion and soon Ash and Nico are after the revenge. Contact must be fulfilled. This interesting premise powers the plot and while it is blatantly obvious that sequels were intended to follow “Farlander”, Buchanan has done a fine job of keeping his plot tight and gripping.
Published in 2011, “Farlander” announced the arrival of Buchanan with a blast. It wasn't so much that Buchanan's worldbuilding was particularly inventive but it was everything else that made his debut so interesting. Let me explain. Superficially, “Farlander” is a familiar tale told countless times before, both in literature and films - that eternal conflict between good and evil set in a pseudo-historical setting upon which the fantasy as a genre is built upon. The main character is a stereotype and there's steampunk elements such as air-ships that were very trendy at the time. However, what sets Buchanan apart from the crowd is his instant readability and writing skill. In his hands, what once seemed ordinary soon becomes a class on its own. I stormed through “Farlander” and had a whale of a time. Great debut from a promising writer. On to “Stands a Shadow” now!
Review copy provided by Tor UK
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