Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: Kell's Legend by Andy Remic (Angry Robot)

Book One of The Clockwork Vampire Chronicles

"They came from the North,and the city fell.

It is a time for warriors, a time for heroes.

Kell's axe howls out for blood..."

KELL'S LEGEND is an action packed, fast paced read that takes hold of you from the very first page and then doesn't let go until the cliffhanger ending.  It is a brutal, dark fantasy and I LOVED IT!

Kell is an old soldier, trying to live a quiet life and forget his bloody past.  But an invader from the North, the Army of Iron, brings all that to an end and Kell is forced to take up his bloodbond battle axe Ilanna again when the city of Jalder is beseiged.  The Army of Iron, albino soldiers led by the sadistic General Graal and aided in their invasion by the alien Harvesters, take the city and Kell is forced to flee, taking with him a small group of survivors to warn the King...

Anukis is a vachine,  part of a race of clockwork vampires that live in the Silva Valley.  Anukis is a prisioner of the Engineer Priests, taken by them after her father, a Watchmaker, was killed.  But Anukis has a secret she's been hiding all her a life, a secret that could see her suffer the same fate as her father...

It is these two storylines that propel KELL'S LEGEND forward.  Remic knows how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats and all his tricks kept me turning page after page to find out what happened next.  In one chapter, I was on the run with Kell and his companions, fleeing the bloodthirsty Harvesters while in the next chilled at Anu's suffering at the hands of her captor.

The battle scenes come at you fast and brutal and bloody, and it's through these scenes that Remic drops little tidbits of Kell's past, his "Days of Blood", which he looks at with bitterness and regret but what the rest of the world calls legend.  It's just enough to fill out the character and makes me eager for more of Kell's history, including the secret behind his blood bond with his weapon, the battle axe Ilanna.

However, it is through Anukis's story that Remic does his world building.  We learn more of the vachine and their albino soldiers and the reason their invading the south.  There are glimpses into the vachine religion, the Oak Testament, that I'm sure will continue to be explored as the series progresses.  And there's the matter of the true nature of Anukis and the path it sets her on as the story closes...

In a genre that is saturated with vampire stories right now, I think Mr Remic has done something incredibly original with the creation of the vachine, bringing the vampire back in a more bloody light while placing them center stage in a Heroic Epic.  And Kell is truly a Hero in the grand tradition, a kill first-ask questions later warrior, stalking the world with his not so trusty weapon, leaving a trail of blood that the bards will glorify in song.

This is my introduction to Andy Remic and as I understand it, his first foray into fantasy.  I think he succeeded here; I thoroughly enjoyed KELL'S LEGEND and the way Remic has left each of the characters, I can't wait to dive into the next volume of the series, SOUL STEALERS.  Highly recommended to lovers of Heroic Fantasy and anyone who is looking for an action packed, satisfying read.

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