Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great fantasy read: Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell

My best fantasy pick in a long time: Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell
The terrible Black Lord of the Underworld is locked out of the green and living Overworld by seven wards set by ancient mages. This evil fallen God cannot rise to break these wards so he must twist and trick a human to do it for him. A woman is taken to the Underworld and her son cut from her womb. Raised by cruel demons and other creatures, this boy is named Bane. Vicious tortures and wicked tests make him strong as he grows. He looks to the Black Lord as his father, who imbues Bane with dark powers. As a human, Bane can go to the Overworld. When he is grown he becomes the Demon Lord and sets out to break the seven wards.

The only hope for the Overworld is a sweet and innocent healer girl, Mirra. Her Sisterhood of healers raised her to undo the evil of Bane with her glorious and selfless goodness. During her upbringing, she was sheltered from anger, arguments, conflict, and any unpleasantness. She is pure and giving and guileless and believes in the goodness of the world. A riveting psychological drama unfolds as these two opposing characters influence each other. Mirra is taken prisoner by the Demon Lord as he spreads terror and destruction across the world, marching from ward to ward and breaking them. Bane is intellectually stymied by Mirra's inability to hate him. She even cares for him because she cares for all things. Bane tortures her but will not kill her, despite repeated demands from the Black Lord that he do so. Gradually Bane becomes protective of Mirra although he refuses to accept that she is stirring human feelings within him.

But the progress of Mirra's good influence is slow, and Bane remains stubbornly loyal to the Black Lord. Wards continue to shatter beneath the Demon Lord's awesome power and the suffering of the world grows worse each day.

Demon Lord is a tremendous fantasy novel packed with demons, trolls, depraved humans, and scuttling horrors of the night. Massive mountain fortresses fall. Towns are ravaged. Storms toss ships at sea. Wards holding back the Black Lord are hidden in a great crashing waterfall or insulated within a colossal monolithic crystal. Mirra learns the terror of being chained to a sacrificial altar. Bane rides a demon steed. Every paragraph and chapter of this novel rushes headlong into gripping action and terrible trials as Bane and Mirra grapple with their worst fears.

Southwell's writing flows and is filled with stunning landscapes and lucid insights into the characters' tortured thoughts. And chapter by chapter the seeds of romance reluctantly germinate in the hostile soil. The age old story of a woman trying to change a man for his own good and the good of the world underpins this wonderful fantasy filled with dark horror, cruelty, and persistent hope.

Demon Lord is the first book in a series and I will definitely be reading more of T.C. Southwell's fantasy fiction. Getting a copy of this novel is as effortless as kneeling before the Demon Lord. It is a free ebook download at Smashwords.

Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell