by Tom Simon
Angel Keep is the dynamite opening to a fast-paced, unforgettable fantasy serial. I had trouble slowing down my reading to review it because the story just kept sucking me into that world. The characters are living, breathing beings, the world-building is first-rate and seamless, and the plot twists are worthy of Jim Butcher on a good day.
Revel and Badger are paladins, fighting knights who specialize in exorcisms. In their world if you kill a human who is Taken, the demon just jumps to another host, possibly you. And if you’re a skilled warrior, and you’re Taken, the demon gets all your skills while it possesses you. So the war they are in against the Taken means not killing their foes, but subduing them and freeing each individual from the demons who posses them. Paladins can remove the demons, but the exorcism almost always is fatal to the person it is exorcised from. That’s where the Angels come in, human women whose job is to help restore enough life energy to the recently freed person so they’ll live.
But paladin Badger, and young novice paladin Revel, have no Angels nearby and have to fight through some of the Taken to get to Angel Keep where they and a few other Paladins are on the ragged edge of this war. They also have to battle unseasonable weather, for the demons bring winter with them wherever they go. And once they fight through to the Keep, there are more subtle wars inside the fortress, between those who are on their side.
Anyone who’s tired of extruded fantasy product and wants the real deal with be thrilled with Where Angels Die. It’s immersive. You’ll come to love the characters: the slowly dying paladin Fox, the acerbic head-angel Lady Swan, her fussbudget husband Master Herrison, practical Greyhand, enigmatic Ogo, and Baron Vail. But it’s Revel and the Badger that take center stage, as they try to plug the holes in scant defenses sometimes armed with nothing more than panache and wit and humor. You’ll want to read this one. And, like me, you’ll probably obsessively reread it as you wait breathless for the next installment. RECOMMENDED