- Dark Blade by Steve Feasey
Feasey, Steve Dark Blade. Bloomsbury, 2020 [352p] (Whispers of the Gods) Paper ed. ISBN 9781408873397 $12.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781408873403 $10.39 Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 6-9
In this Norse-inspired fantasy, three young people with wildly different skills become allies against a flood of evil; they are aided in their quest by a complex and memorable witch and a slippery god who eludes clear answers while nudging them toward key discoveries. Lann is learning to share control with his gift from the gods in the form of a sword, Dread Blade, that is astonishingly attuned to destroying monsters (both human and otherwise); Astrid is not a terrific substitute queen but she is ferocious and skilled as a warrior; and Erik, once cleared of regicide, is a born leader. It's a terrific cast of characters, down to the chillingly hollow sociopath of a villain who was already horrifying before he summoned a lich to share his body and aid him in the opening of a monstrous portal. Feasey accomplishes an impressive amount of world building on the sly, leaving a rich understanding of the landscape and cultures of this setting while never slowing down on the exhilarating action. Although there's about as much gore as one would imagine in a novel about a sword that yearns to murder in a land currently beset by monsters, the story stretches to younger fantasy fans, a boon given the relative dearth of complex, high stakes fantasies that aren't exclusively for older teens. Readers will already likely be anticipating [End Page 471] the next volume of this British import series even before they are left with a juicy bit of a lineage revelation to contemplate while they wait.