Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Horns of Ruin Book Review

Title: The Horns of Ruin
Author: Tim Aker
Publisher: Pyr Publishing
Pages: 268
ISBN: 9781616142469

There's nothing that I enjoy more than a rarity from time to time: a good ol' fashioned stand alone novel, and with The Horns of Ruin, author Tim Aker delivers a one-off treat. And boy is it sweet!

Eva Forge is the last Paladin and scion of the dead god Morgan. The eldest of the three god-brother pantheon, Morgan was the god of the Warrior. Slain by his brother Amon the Betrayer, Alexander the middle brother of the pantheon of gods ascended into ruler of the city of Ash. Now as the remainder of the Cult of Morgan are being hunted down and killed, it's up to Eva to find the person behind it and uncover the truth before she herself is killed.

The Horns of Ruin was a quick read for me. Clocking in at around 270 pages, I found myself devouring it in two quick sit downs. Aker does a good job with voice and pacing the novel to read like a thriller/mystery/crime, set in another world, more specifically: a steampunk world. Writing from first person narrative not only helped in the telling of the story from Eva's perspective, but it also quickened the pace, leaving me breathless until after I turned the last page.

For the most part, I enjoyed the vivid worldbuilding that Aker brought to the page. The inclusion of zombies, and men with rockets fused to their backs, for example, were excellent extras that pulled the reader in by taking something familiar by concept, and making them alien by name. All the while reminding the reader that it's a different world; a world were steam and magic run everything.

I also enjoyed the magic system that Eva draws on in the story. The use of Morgan's story/ legend as a god to bring power to his scions was a nice touch. However, during some parts of the novel it felt as though the world was being built around the characters as Akers wrote; the whole of Eva's universe being explored by not just Eva, but also the reader as well, as the two pursue the assassins of the Cult of Morgan through the alleys, streets, ancient buildings and watery depths of Ash.

And as for Eva herself, I loved the character, and the fact that she basically stays the same hard headed, smart ass, who constantly continues to remind herself that she is the last scion and Paladin of a Dead God. And that -- as far as she's concerned -- the entire weight of the world is bearing down on her shoulders, and time is running out. She's a strong female lead, something that doesn't appear too often in science fiction and fantasy; a position that is usually reserved for the brawny, brainless male characters.

The Horns of Ruin is a strikingly imaginative novel, set in a steampunk world with dead gods, zombies, rocket pack men, and a mystery that will leave you guessing until the explosive end. I can honestly say that only then will you be able to catch your breath; it's that good. That's why I'm giving The Horns of Ruin a rating of 7.5 out of 10 Goggles.

If you're looking for a quick steampunk read that can be devoured in only a few sittings, then The Horns of Ruin won't disappoint.


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