Kurt and Dale collapsed to the ground, their fingernails clawing deep into their skulls. The Zanon boy’s body stiffened, tiny spots of blood appearing all over his body. Markov dropped the long sword he was holding and clutched his chest, furiously clawing at his steel breastplate. His ears spurt a thick black liquid as he fell to his knees. He shouted at Ash, but Ash could not hear his words. Markov put his hand to his face and screamed the word, f-l-y, before he doubled over, a river of dark red blood pouring from his mouth.
The white devil was now staring at Ash with eyes devoid of light. Its mouth moved as if to speak. The stone’s beneath Ash rumbled again.
What is it saying?
Reality can be a cold, hard bitch and in Todd Maternowski’s Exmortus we get a first hand look at how the sheltered life of childhood can leave one completely unprepared for the time when the world at large must be faced. The author’s fantasy world is a harsh, brutal place where mistakes lead to death and trust is a commodity that’s price may prove to be too high.
Exmortus is the story of Ash, an aspiring knight whose home, mentors and heroes are destroyed in a night by an unstoppable devil. He is left with a quest he wants no part of and companions who seem entirely unsuited for such an important mission. Ash must learn what it means to lead while faced with a world that has precious little honor and all too much danger.
The author pulls no punches in his book, which is clearly intended for adults, so the main characters and the story in general are flawed and over the top with their personal inequities. In the early parts of the book I was a bit put off by the characters and found all of them to be somewhat unlikable. However, as the story progressed, some of their more endearing qualities began to shine through and I could see them for what they were: human. The novel does not take much time explaining or exploring the flaws of the people that we meet thorough the course of the story, and this became a little distracting in parts because it was hard to understand the deeper motivations of the individuals and made them seem more two-dimensional than they deserved. The world is full of history and monuments that are interesting and bring to mind the vast scale and epic nature of Tolkien’s works while falling short of the intense detail that made Middle-Earth so real in the mind of the readers.
Exmortus is the first of three planned books and so you should expect to have some questions left unanswered. The ending was abrupt and left me wanting more, but it was frustrating because it felt like the book ended mid-scene. I think another chapter or three might have made for a more tidy ending while still making me want more, instead of making me wonder if the end of the book had been left off.
If you like your fantasy brutal, then this is the book for you. There is plenty of violence, sex and foul language throughout the book and it adds to the gritty realism that highlights the difference between the real world and a lifetime spent amongst monks.
You can buy Exmortus on Amazon and Smashwords for $4.99.
Please Visit: TowersOfDawn.com, the official website of Exmortus.