Song by Jesse Teller

About the Novel

Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him.

This is a book that I’ve been meaning to read and review for a while now. In fact, I’ve had a copy of this waiting to be read since before this blog even existed.

Song is a grimdark book, but not like any grimdark I’ve read before. The dark, oppressive, gritty™ tone is there, though it contrasts with the breakneck pace and sheer readability. Unlike most grimdark, I’d feel comfortable saying that this is a book for binging.

The plot seems simple at first, though there are more than enough twists and turns to keep you entertained. A nefarious individual known as the Black Cowl has broken into the local supervillain penitentiary and has set everyone free. In an effort to prevent these pesky villains from causing too much mayhem, super-ancient ultra-powerful wizard Rayph Ivoryfist attempts to rally his friends to form what is effectively a counter-terrorism group.

If it seems like my description of this supposedly grimdark book sounds a little camp… that’s deliberate. While this book can be dark — and trust me, it really CAN be dark — it still reads a little like a comic book. And I mean that as a compliment.

The villains can seem a little over-the-top at times, but they can still be pretty fucking scary. The powers on display can seem insane, and yet they’ll constantly escalate. Every chapter has something happen — be that a fight, a stand-off, or an intense lets-get-this-story-moving conversation.

Jesse Teller only takes his foot off the accelerator to switch to a higher gear.

There are two main POV characters in this book: The aforementioned Rayph Ivoryfist, and a bounty hunter slash father named Konnan. While Rayph’s is more of a “kill the villains, save the world” story, Konnan’s feels a bit more personal.

His daughter is dying.

She has a paralysis which is slowly creeping up her body, killing her slowly. The only “cure” for her condition is a medicine that slows the spread, and so Konnan makes his living as a bounty hunter in order to keep his daughter alive.

Rayph also has someone to keep alive — the king. Our meddling supervillains have evil plans that involve the king’s death, and Rayph refuses to allow that to happen. Unfortunately, the king is a bit of a wanker.

Things all come to a head in the eponymous city of Song. There are dastardly plots, magical weapons, sorcerous battles that’ll make you shit your knickers, and that all comes packaged in an insanely-digestible writing style that’ll drag your eyes kicking and screaming to the next page.

This is a grimdark book though, and with that comes a few disturbing scenes. There is a lot of violence of the not-so-fun kind, particularly towards the female characters. One particularly memorable scene involves a villain using a little girl’s life as leverage, taking a perverse pleasure in her suffering as he does so.

All of this comes together to form a unique book. It’s not a book for everyone, but if you’re a fan of fast-paced, high-action stories with lots of magic — and don’t mind a darker tone — then this is the book for you.

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