If, like me, you were a fan of Marvel comics and graphic novels back in the 80s, Paul Batteiger has written a book for you. The Union of Heroes is a largely unique world filled with unique heroes and villains (no mean feat considering how many have gone before him) that are equally likeable and/or hate-able, depending on which side of the fence you happen to be on. The writing is accessible and the pacing, after the first couple of chapters, is crisp and engaging. I found myself caught up in the story very quickly and would often read way more than I intended to in any given sitting. The end came far too quickly and I am looking forward to the next book of Heroes adventures.
Want a story that will make you think twice about turning a corner in a dark hallway or jump every time a shadow appears to move? Then you need to read Cold Lady. The characters are quite real and I quickly found myself sharing their feelings of dread and foreboding. The level of detail achieved in a short space is amazing. My only "complaint" is that it is over too soon. I look forward to more from the author and I will definitely have a light on. Actually, I'll probably have ALL the lights on.
Set in a foreign place in an indeterminate time, The Demon Star tells an adventurous tale of an untested queen, a powerful wizard and an ancient evil fighting for control over lands far and wide. Author Paul Batteiger adds elements of high fantasy to what is a Sword and Sorcery world that should appeal to a wide spectrum of fans. Eldritch and arcane spells vie against and fight alongside shining steel, flashing arrows and early powder-driven projectile weapons as kingdoms struggle for supremacy all while a dark force not seen in five millennia manipulates people and forces to undo them all with only one person aware of what’s truly at stake.
The story takes some time to get rolling and the volume of characters, places and historical events at the outset is daunting. I struggled to keep track of many of the ancillary players and despite the map provided, wasn’t truly able to orient myself in this new land. However, the threads soon started to weave a clearer tapestry of events and after only a few chapters the pace of the story started to pick up and soon I was reluctant to put the book down. Batteiger sets the scenes expertly and whether in a king’s receiving chamber, the deck of a storm-lashed ship or the ruins of an ancient city, his descriptions allowed for the formation of clear image of what the characters were seeing. The action is thrilling without sinking into unnecessary graphic details and the pacing crisp, even when battles subside and those left alive discuss their next steps.
There are a few characters truly central to the story, including the queen, Amarantha, the wizard, Israfel, Israfel’s associate, the admittedly less talented Calderon, who provides some welcome comic relief, and Scutari, the former wizard, now general. Israfel and Scutari step into the story close to fully formed, for the most part, and are not as interesting as the Queen and Calderon who grow throughout, making their storylines a little more fun to follow. Regardless, all are quite believable and Batteiger does a good job keeping each true to character throughout the book.
If a combination of high fantasy like The Lord of the Rings and sword and sorcery stories in the style of R.E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith sounds like something you would enjoy, give The Demon Star a few evenings and prepare to lose yourself in a strange, new world.