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The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carré
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616142469
Date: 02 November 2010 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Tim Akers is considered a steampunk author (The Heart of Veridon), but his newest novel, The Horns of Ruin, doesn't quite fit that genre. Eva Forge, last Paladin of the dead warrior god Morgan, fights to right old wrongs, salvage her honor, and avenge the deaths of those who worship Morgan.

She lives in the city of Ash, a place of mixed technology and magic. She fights with invocations to Morgan that provide her with enhanced abilities as a warrior. Headstrong and emotional, Eva carries the burden of guilt for not saving Barnabas, the head Elder of Morgan's cult. A lone warrior against overwhelming odds, she could not destroy all the animated dead warriors sent to capture him. Now she lives only to find Barnabas or to avenge his death.

The three power sects of Ash are the cults of the immortal brothers, Amon, Morgan, and Alexander. Amon the Scholar became the Betrayer and killed Morgan the Warrior only to be killed by Alexander the god-king. The Morganite warriors fought Ash's battles while Amon's worshippers exploited technology and now serve Alexander in chains. Eva remains confused over who would have taken Barnabas and clues are few.

Act first and plan later describes Eva. She bullies and browbeats others to gain her ends, but understands loyalty and honor. Subtlety is not in her. Eva's not one to agonize over a decision regardless of the cost to herself or to others. She prefers to fight, kill first, and then raise questions later. She also doesn't like to rely on others.

Because Amonites are enemies, Eva has trouble trusting Cassandra, the Amonite scholar, Barnabas sought and who traveled with them. Eva wonders if she isn't part of the plot against him. Because of limited resources, Eva must also rely on Owen, one of Alexander's officers.

Since the narrative is entirely from Eva's perspective we learn about others only via their interactions with her. She shows no real awareness of who these people are or their motivations to help or hinder her. Remorse is not part of her character and the only guilt she feels relates to Barnabas and a bit over the fate of her colleagues in the sect of Morgan. The climax puts Eva front and center with the power to save or destroy Ash and all it contains.

Some loose ends remain. Akers never follows up or explains some things such as the pumps in the animated dead men that appear at odds with the story of Alexander animating them with a spark of power or the abilities of the mysterious men who anticipated their escape route before Barnabas is kidnapped. He does identify them. However, he could develop all of these in a sequel.

The Dead of Veridon, his next novel, is a sequel to The Heart of Veridon to be published by Solaris. His next project for Pyr has not been defined.

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