I haven’t read a lot of fantasy novels recently, epic or otherwise. My tastes tend more toward science fiction. Duskfall, by Christopher Husberg, caught me by surprise, however. I met the author at a local convention, we discussed the book for a bit, and he really piqued my interest. So I decided to read it.
Knot was found floating in the ocean by some fishers out in a bay, and he remembers nothing of his previous life. After being rescued, he decides to settle down in the village, even marrying a local tiellan (the word for “elf” in this world). On that same day, he runs away in the night and his new wife, Winter, decides to follow him. Along the way, they meet vampires, spies, assassins—all sorts of people out to use or kill them.
In this world are psimancers, people with extraordinary magical/mental abilities. Some of them have it innately, and others require a powerful and highly-addictive drug known as frost to access their abilities. I really enjoyed how this addiction was handled in Duskfall. Husberg did a good job showing both sides of the issue, including what people tell themselves when they are addicted.
The world building here is impressive. I can tell Husberg spent a lot of time working out various details of Sfaera (the world in which the story is set). The various groups in power, the different countries, the different peoples; all of them have history which is slowly given out over the course of the story. If the remaining five books are as good as Duskfall, I see this series becoming a classic.
I really enjoyed how the author created a unique take on the typical epic fantasy. While he had elves (tiellans, here), they weren’t your typical elves. In the far past, the tiellans wielded great powers, but the ones in the story are a far cry from that. The humans were nuanced and interesting. Husberg also tackled religion and crises of faith in an interesting and compelling manner.
The pacing in the book is spot on. There is no navel-gazing happening here. Instead, the characters interact together like a well-oiled machine, keeping the story moving along even when the characters aren’t moving along. I never got bored, and found I was always eager to see what happened next. The important parts in the story were well sprinkled throughout, never feeling rushed or shoehorned into place.
Going in, I knew this was a series of five books. This can be a bad thing in many cases, but Husberg provided a satisfying conclusion to Duskfall while still allowing for plenty of mysteries to solve later. It is solid, entertaining, and left me eager to read the next book (Dark Immolation, out in June 2017). This is as it should be with a first book, and I have high expectations for the second book.
Release Date: June 21, 2016 (USA)
ISBNs: 1783299150 (9781783299157)
Publisher: Titan Books
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (a main plot point revolves around a highly-addictive drug)
Language: 1 (minor, infrequent)
Sexuality: 1 (innuendo, brief non-graphic references to sex)
Violence: 3 (some brutal violence, assassination, murder, many deaths, battle scenes)