I received an ARC of this book by Rebellion Publishing in exchange for a honest review. With every new release and the most anticipated books of the year, I find solace in returning to the classics of the fantasy genre. Whether being Tolkien, Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, or even Raymond E. Feist I am always envious of the literary giants whom have come before. Reading Seven Deaths of an Empire was like taking a time machine back to my childhood for an enjoying read of the classics once again. This is classical fantasy done for the modern reader and you will not be able to sit still for two seconds. Twists and turns, magic, war, and even death will follow your every move and you will not be able to escape. This is a highly anticipated release for a reason and you should mark June 2021 on your calendar right now!
The emperor is dead in the line of combat and his body must be protected at all cost. His flame (soul and memories) must be left intact in order to be pasted down to the successor, but the tribes of the north have other ideas. We follow two main characters on our journey titled: The General and The Magician. General Bordan is an elderly man who has lived a long life and is aching for retirement. When news reaches his ears of the emperors death, he races to protect the imperial family, assemble the dukes, and determine the plans to bring the emperors body home. Kyron is a magician apprentice whom is tasked with his master Padarn to accompany the imperial caravan through the woods and back to the capital. Kyron will have to learn the essence of magic quickly in order to fend off the tribal assaults. They are in the middle of a battlefield and help will not come from the most likely source.
Let me explain the great work that G.R Matthews has written for the world to enjoy. I love how he plays with the traditionally troupes of a general and magician but essentially reverses these roles in the beginning. Normally you see magicians in court and away from the battle and generals on the front line, but not here. The author is constantly making you question the moral implications of the good vs evil and which side you may fall on. The action will be coming at you from every direction and at some point you will be screaming “let me get some room to breath”, but you will want to stay below the surface once more unto the breach!
Another familiar troupe in this book is religion and how it is on edge with its rival, the magicians. The church believes that the divine one left this world, but the magic left behind is sacrosanct and shouldn’t be trifled with. The magicians believe the divine left the magic or essence behind for a reason, and using it must be his will. The tension between these two factions are so intense, you could cut it with a butter knife.
The chapters are relatively short and they always alternate between Bordan and Kyron. The pacing is quick, but not to the point where you feel like missing out of the world. Information will flow naturally through character dialogue with no end in sight. This book reminded me so much of when I first read Magician by Raymond E. Feist and the classic that it is. Those are high remarks but I feel that they are well earned. Are you a classical fantasy lover with shocking moments, magic, and grey characters? This is the books for you, read it!