An age of myth. A bitter feud. A storm of legend.
It is the closing days of the Enkindled King’s wars for Earthblood, when a cycle of violence and hatred sparks a bitter feud in his shadow.
Náith, the Warrior. Luw, the Hunter. Cast aside and burned by their lover’s betrayal, the two find themselves trapped in a bloody struggle for the affections of Síle, the Maid of Mael Tulla.
Cherished as a healer and bringer of verdant life to barren lands, Síle stands as a mystery unto all – even those who would claim her heart. For one so gentle and kind, secrets and bloodshed swarm about her like flies upon a corpse.
Consumed by hatred and heartache, both Náith and Luw will take the darkest of trials and challenge death itself, unaware of the true game being played.
A storm beyond imagining waits for the Warrior and the Hunter. One that will decide the fate of Luah Fáil.
I was familiar with Frank Dorrian from his Blackshield Dogs novellas, and his The Shadow of a High King novel, which are some dark fantasy masterpieces. This meant I had an idea of what was in store for me with Horns of the Hunter: interesting but flawed characters, lots of fast paced, in your face brutal action, strong world building and a story that races along until it all ends in the clash of steel and spilling of blood. My expectations were met completely, in some of the best ways possible.
The story takes place in a land of legends, in an ancient time only spoken of in stories, when gods among men roamed the world, accomplishing impossible feats. This land is the island of Luah Fail, which bears a striking resemblance to Ireland. An Ireland that had magic in its very soil. You can definitely see that strong Irish Celtic mythos inspired this world, which is cool choice, since its usually some variation of Norse mythology used as a setting lately. This leads to some interesting situations throughout the book, since the Celts had as grimdark a pantheon as there ever was, and this is reflected in the characters.
Those characters are just such a strength in the story. Naith, the powerful warrior, and Luw, the horned hunter, are obviously destined to be at each others throats throughout the story, all the way to the bitter end. Their story revolves around Sile, the Maid of Mael Tulla, who brings plants to life around her, and holds both of their hearts. It’s this love triangle that has so much potential for tragedy, and it doesn’t disappoint. You can tell as the story progresses, and Naith and Luw keep trying destroying each others lives, that Sile is not unaware of this, and has something more than just playing with them in her long term plans. This mystery plays out so well as the story works towards its epic conclusion.
The secondary characters really help round out the story. Aodhamar especially stands out. He is the king who has absorbed more of the Earthblood magic than is wise, and his power makes him ruthless and unworried about his actions, since he is the most powerful being on the island. He’s also greedy for more, so is always looking for the next war, and is completely intolerant of failure. He also seems to know more than he lets on about whats happening between with Sile, as we discover later on. They really help round out the story and its epic clash at the end.
I am amazed at how much I became invested in these characters. Luw starts off as the more sympathetic character, but as the story progresses, we get to see some of the machinations in the background play out, and realize that things aren’t quite what they seem. It plays out perfectly, and leads to an ending you just couldn’t imagine. I have to list this as one of my favorite reads of the year, and highly recommend reading it yourself.