Book Review: Kalanon’s Rising, by Darian Smith

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

kalanons-rising-v2-2Darian Smith is a very talented writer, one whom I would rank on par with Brandon Sanderson and Peter V. Brett. His plots are engrossing, his settings highly developed and he has a real knack for immersing you fully into the world.

Kalanon’s Rising is both a murder mystery and a powerful fantasy novel, and Smith displays a considerable amount of talent and imagination at penning both. There are red herrings, false leads, plenty of unexpected twists and illuminating discoveries. Plot holes are skillfully plugged, and tangled webs are woven. He doesn’t go light on the shock and brutality either. Not only that, but Smith really understands the psychology of his characters, and they are all deeply developed and unique.

Sir Brannon Kesh earned the name Bloodhawk during the brutal war against the Nilarian people. He has since put that name, and his past, behind him, building a new life as a physician. He has recently, and somewhat reluctantly, taken on an apprentice − pretty, young Jessamine. However, his other life calls him back when the king’s cousin is violently murdered, the rather-disturbing crime scene suggesting that dark magic is involved, dark magic, and possibly a conspiracy against the crown. Charged to solve the crime, and possibly even save the realm from political disaster, Brannon assembles a small and rather unlikely team.

There is Magus Draeson, the centuries-old mage who helped turn the tide of war, now sporting a younger, handsome body and enjoying the frivolities of the life that comes with it; Taran, a socially awkward priest with an unusual obsession and unorthodox methodology and Ula, a shaman with the understanding − and ability − to bring corpses to life as powerful Risen warriors. Added into the mix is Ylani, the Nilaran ambassador and someone who has real reason to dislike the monarchy, and Letricia, the victim’s widow. As the corpses start to pile up, things become desperate and the kingdom of Kalanon could fall to ruin, or worse.

If you enjoy murder mysteries, intriguing and diverse characters, a gripping story line, conspiracies, and a bit of blood and gore, then you’ll love Kalanon’s Rising. Not only that, but it’s the first in the series, and I really look forward to reading more.

Kalanon’s Rising
by Darian Smith
Published by Wooden Tiger Press
ISBN 9780473366421 (US)

Book Review: Currents of Change, by Darian Smith

cv_currents_of_changeAvailable now in selected bookshops.

Well-written and deliciously addictive. This spine-chilling ghost story kept me up until midnight, until just past the point where it stopped being a ghost story and became something else…

Sara is a troubled heroine, fleeing from her past, but burdened with self-doubts and shattered esteem. It is hard for her to trust, to open herself, and thus she protects herself with a wall of angry, sharp retorts. Her family home, in the isolated township of Kowhiowhio, Northland, provides the sanctuary she needs, but it brings with it darkness too. And not just because of the lack of electricity.

Sara’s sharp but endearing personality, her fragility edged with razors, make her an engaging heroine, and her friendship with general-all-round-good-guy neighbour, Nate, with his frank and generally cheerful nature, a good counterpoint. His sister-in-law, sharp, almost vicious, Moana adds a welcome dose of conflict and thrown into the whole weave is Great Aunt Bridget (long dead, but not at rest), a dark family secret, an adorable kitten, an almost-as-adorable little girl and an extremely unpleasant estranged husband.

This is an engaging read, although the sudden twist from ghost story to something else entirely derailed me for a heartbeat or three. Despite this, I would consider it a damn fine read.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

Currents of Change
by Darian Smith
Published by Wooden Tiger Press
ISBN 9780473318109