Review: The Deathless by Peter Newman - 8/10*
In a world overgrown with dark forest, known ominously as the wilds, only the immortal Deathless can hold evil at bay and protect the innocent from the vile and ravenous daemons that stalk amongst the trees.
The Deathless patrol their lands in floating crystal castles, propelled by the same nature defying magic that gives continued life to their souls. They transfer bodies when they age, making each dynasty everlasting. There are seven of them, each defined by a crystal which is the emblem of their house. They make their armour and weapons from it, shaping spears, plate and wings that allow them to fly over the wilds and hunt the creatures that dwell within. It is the only time they truly feel alive in an eternity of murderous house politics.
Newman vividly creates a place of darkness, despair and absolute horror within the wilds. For those that are not immortal, it is a place of dread and the very essence of a nightmare. The sections of the plot that were set there evoked a distinctively eerie feeling overshadowed by the presence of something malignant and rotting. I loved it. It felt like something Lovecraft would have devised. There are, no doubt, more strange horrors lurking within just waiting for the right opportunity to strike down a Deathless immortal (if he can escape away from the life of plotting, scheming and politics.)
There are three main point of view characters, each of which provides a distinct voice that helps to establish the working of this intricately crafted fantasy universe. And it is a fine one. It hasn’t given all the answers away, as some books do far too early, but instead throws you straight into the action. It begins with an assassination attempt, the aftermath of which pushes the plot forward for the rest of the book. Vasin, Pari and Chand (the POVs) all become preoccupied with surviving the ramifications of the blood bath, and, naively, begin to push the real threat to the back of their minds.
However, the mysterious enemy appears to be far more complex than the characters suppose them to be. They see only evil in the wilds, though I think there is far more at play. Newman leaves just enough suggestions to hint at something different entirely. Where did they come from? Who are these creatures? These are questions I asked myself as I saw into the mind of the Deathless, immortals that appear noble and flawless, but are not as perfect as they pretend to be. I think the origins of the daemons are somehow interlinked with the magic of the immortals. Time will tell.
The Deathless is but a peak into the vastness of this new fantasy world. I feel like I’ve only seen a fraction of what is to come. There are more Deathless dynasties to introduce which will, no doubt, come with more in-fighting and political back-stabbing. Everybody seems to be making a bid for power. Roll on book two!