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    Review of DAMNATION OF THE REALM by Joshua Calkins-Treworgy

    FREEDOM OR THE FIRE Vol. One, March 2008

    Damnation of the Realm cover The Orbs of Eden's Serpent promise incredible power to any who possess them. Which is exactly why, after the defeat of Tanarak of Sidius, the Orbs have been secreted away across the continent, protected by were-coyotes, priests, monks, and elf-mages. But Richard Vandross, formerly Tanarak's apprentice, has quietly built an army and now intends to re-unite his former master's orbs--under his own control.

    For years, Byron of Sidius served along with Vandross, following Tanarak's orders, destroying anyone who opposed that powerful mage. All those years, his soul watched as Tanarak's magic forced him to perform unspeakable evil. Now his soul is free, but his body is that of a dread-knight, a skeletal warrior no lawful creature dare trust. And even that freedom comes at a cost. Above anything else, Byron fears the re-united power of the Orb. Still, if Elf mages, powerful martial monks, and fierce coyotai can't stop Vandross, what can one dread knight do?

    Byron gradually accumulates a band of friends and powerful warriors/mages to help him, but with each orb he collects, Vandross's power is multiplied. Stopping him may prove impossible. One thing Byron is certain of--he's unlikely to survive any final confrontation with the warlord--a warlord who's increasingly crazed by the power of the orbs he consumes.

    Author Joshua Calkins-Treworgy (see more reviews of novels by Calkins-Treworgy) creates a wonderful world of magic. Although they're fighting for good, Calkins-Treworgy is careful to give his characters flaws and imperfections, making them more human--beings with whom we can identify. Fans of sword and sorcery fantasy will recognize that Calkins-Treworgy follows the comfortable conventions (Dwarves talking with a Scottish burr, for example), but he extends these in intriguing ways.

    DAMNATION OF THE REALM is the first of two volumes in the FREEDOM OR THE FIRE series. (See also our review of the concluding volume, THE DREAD KNIGHT'S REDEMPTION)

    Approximately 140,000 words.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 3/10/08

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