Upon the black sands and beneath the ever-watching eyes, a tale of shadow magic and ancient mysteries unfold in this new dark epic fantasy series.
In the desert city of Yontar, Nya cares for her sick mother. But when Nya is arrested, her mother’s death is all but certain unless Nya joins a secret project that promises her freedom. If she survives.
Rai, a mercenary, has a shadow dark enough for two. In his quest to discover the nature of the creature living in his shadow, Rai collides with old friends and new enemies, stumbling into an ancient mystery that could mean the end of the world as they know it.
All the while, a darkness stirs and rebellion threatens, helmed by a man who promises justice will reign.
Harbinger of Justice by Andrew Watson is a fantastic debut novel that takes bits of fantasy we love, adding a new spin on them in a exotic fantasy world, with a dark history and unique magic system.
Before starting, I have to add that the cover of the book is absolutely beautiful and definitely captures the tone and setting of the book perfectly. Nothing more than the ideal introduction to the world Watson has created.
You know all those fantasy books set in medieval European settings, that while most of the time fantastic, do get a bit samey? Well this isn’t one of those. The setting (Tarris) is much more reminiscent of Middle Eastern culture, possibly Egypt, which alone perked my interest. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do, however Watson did a great job at capturing that setting and atmosphere. At times I really did feel like I was in the world of Tarris, feeling that hot desert air, the smell of spices, walking amongst the markets, and seeing some of the cool beasts described throughout the book. Maaaaaaaaybe this ones a good one to read on a cold winters day, rather than in summer!
The book has a strong cast of characters that felt likeable, despite not always making the best choices. Nya, a thief trying to survive on the street, is one of the main characters. Up until this point she’s led quite an unfortunate life and it quickly gets worse for her, despite eventually bumping into Rai who attempts to guide her and her new found shadow power. Nya goes through some quite nasty events, but I think Watson wrote her struggles and character development perfectly. Rai on the other hand is much more confident (but deals with his own issues) with his shadow and gives off some badass mentor vibes, while also being genuinely likeable. I connected much more with his character and found his decisions much more relatable. Bonus points for his badass shadow – Fax, who provided some excellent and humorous monologue between the two. The antagonist of the story is Kyan, who is actually the first character we’re introduced too. Despite him being the antagonist, I really enjoyed the chapters focused on him and thought him quite the likeable villain, hellbent on some pretty destructive events. I’m definitely most looking forward (hoping to see more off) to what he has planned for Tarris in the sequels.
One thing I’m definitely hoping to see more in the sequel is some more backstory on the history of Tarris and also of The Seven, which I think will also open up the world much more!
The writing was excellent in this book – I always appreciate an author that is able to perfectly capture the right amount of descriptive writing and dialogue. In other words, the world-building was enough to reel me in but not bog me down. if anything I’d say the pace gave it a movie-like feel, that gave the book a nice pace and just made it…enjoyable to pick up and read.
If you’re looking for something new, that stands out from your usual fantasy, with a unique magic system and a varied cast of characters, then I would highly recommend this debut novel. Bonus, if you love animal companions, then you’ll really appreciate this one!