I recieved a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Written in 2002, To Ride Hell’s Chasm has not received in the book community the admiration and support it deserves. Written as a standalone novel and covering several relevant topics affecting our society today, I am once again speechless to what Janny has presented to us. A bit of a slow burn to start but by the halfway point you will be thrusted into a nonstop action adventure that had me up well into the morning sun. To Ride Hell’s Chasm is the best standalone epic fantasy novel I have ever read and the ending sequence will stay with you forever.
Princess Anja of Sessalie has gone missing right at the time when she is supposted to be married to the High Prince of Devall. The leaders put Commander Taskins in charge of recovering Anja safely but Taskins realizes that he will need more help. Taskins enlists the help of Mykkael, a desert-bred foreign mercenary and captain of the Lowergate Garrison at Sessalie. Mykkael walks around with a limp leg as a battle injury from his past life and he is always in some level of pain when going about his duty. Mykkael also possess an untrained type of magic where he see’s visions of people when given either a piece of clothing or picture of the person in question. This will prove vital in the search for Anja. The more time that passes by, the more the royal leaders are suspicious that Mykkael has something to do with Anja’s disapearance and it is right at this point where the story goes wild. I will end my discussion here about the plot as to not ruin anything.
What Janny was able to compact into a six hundred page novel is nothing short of astonishing. Mykkael will be a fan favorite as the layers are peeled including: his history as a mercenary in another country and the battles scars he carries with him (both phsyically and mentally), to his fighting techniques and how it is used, to the relationships he had and lost. Mykkael is a prideful lion who will do everything to keep his oath even if those choices might be hard for others to stomach.
The themes Janny touches on in this book are relevant to our society today. Janny dives into the issues of law enforcement as it pertains to following the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law. How do you balance these real issues in a short time span when a persons life is one the line? Racism and bigotry are themes in this book as well. Sessalie is an isolated northern city and they don’t get many outside visitors. Mykkael has to always battle these obstacles and even more so when he is asked to find the missing Princess. Political influence plays a huge role as Taskins has to always play a middle man between the royals who want Mykkael questioned but Taskins will not do it without proof first. Finally PTSD is a crucial element to understanding Mykkael and the horrors of his past. Little by little you will start to see flashbacks to his past and how it has turned Mykkael into the warrior he is today. Don’t sleep on the emotion turmoil you will feel when reading these scenes.
As a bonus for you lovely readers, I was able to do a livestream with Janny Wurts, Philip Chase and Johanna where we give a two hour discussion of this epic standalone volume! I will leave the link below should you be interested in viewing it.
To Ride Hell’s Chasm has everything you could ever want in a standalone volume. I am happy to say that it is the perfect stepping stone for readers interested in reading Janny’s The Wars of Light and Shadow series. Janny will forever be among my favorite authors and for those of you new to her work, buckle up!