Once again, Pyr Books knocks it out of the park with their offering The Horns of Ruin, written by Tim Akers. This book is dark, bitter and absolutely perfect for anyone looking to read about dead gods, mysteries and the anger of one powerful and betrayed Paladin.
The city of Ash had been founded by the brother-gods: Alexander the healer, Morgan the paladin, and Amon the Betrayer. Each god had his followers, and the three brothers maintained a delicate balance of keeping humanity powerful and on top. However, Morgan is betrayed and murdered by his own brother Amon in a jealous rage, who is then killed by the vengeful followers of Morgan. Alexander, the last living brother, rules Ash.
Years later, the cult of Morgan is almost dead. There is one last Paladin guarding the powerful Elders of the cult, and her story is the one we read from the moment the book opens. Eva is guarding the Fratriarch of the cult of Morgan, Barnabas Silent, as they make their way through the city of Ash to meet with another temple of the brother-gods. Eva assumes (naturally) that it is at the temple of Alexander, the only brother-god still alive and ruler of the city of Ash. She is shocked, however, when she learns that instead they are off to visit the temple of Amon the Betrayer.
The story starts off slowly, building together a puzzling series of clues to form a foundation for the novel. Eva and her Fratriarch are quickly attacked after they leave the temple of Amon with a worshipper of the Betrayer, a girl by the name of Cassandra. Eva is separated from the two when they are attacked and she fears the worst when she later finds only the girl and not Barnabas. Then things become even more mysterious when other Elders of the dead god Morgan began to be murdered in their homes and at their temple.
The city of Ash is breathtaking, the details rich and vivid as Akers paints his scenes with a masterful stroke. Eva is a very believable character who I grew to love very early in the book, and her allegiance to her masters and her dead god is worthy of mention. Too often in books does a person who was born and raised in servitude turn their backs to their god in a spiteful rage. Eva does not do this throughout the entire book, despite her misgivings of what the Elders and others are doing around her. It’s a rather refreshing look at commitment and dedication of the last paladin.
I really didn’t have much to complain about with this book, as the author consistently keeps the story moving along whether the character is ready or not. Time does not stand still for anyone, and Akers wisely shows how Eva is fighting both time and her enemies in his style and pacing. I love a dark, gritty tale and Akers resoundingly delivers. He blends magic, steampunk and a solid mystery into one cohesive and wonderful book.
Go buy this book. Heck, go buy two and give one to a friend. They’ll thank you in the end.
–Reviewed by Jason