This review was first published by Booklist on September 1, 2016.
A thousand years ago, the Five Warrior Angels rid the Five Isles of demons. Since then, their legends have given rise to religions, which now war for conquest. Many believe a prophesied apocalypse is near: some seek to hasten it, while a secret cult fights to prevent it. Magical weapons thought long lost are being found. But the legends may be lies, and the fate of the world depends on the daughters of a king, an assassin, a mysterious Vallè, and an orphan boy from a small fishing village. This is high fantasy in the vein of Stephen R. Donaldson or David Eddings, with generous helpings from George R. R. Martin. Durfee’s world building is exceptional: detailed and immersive, with a deep history and believable cultures. The plot is paced and driven, compellingly structured, with a conflict large enough to fuel forthcoming titles in the series. Some of the concepts and characters feel derivative, though archetype, and, unfortunately, the writing is inconsistent. For fans of high fantasy, the less-than-stellar writing shouldn’t detract from enjoyment of the world and the many entertainments of the story.