Knights of the Dead God by James Jakins
Review by Steve Caldwell
While this book is a sequel to the author’s urban fantasy, Jack Bloodfist: Fixer, it is not necessary to have read that one to understand this story. It is a stand alone spin-off dealing with a few characters from the original in an all new fantasy setting. Readers should have no issues getting right into the story.
Arthur Shield, former knight of the dead God of Justice, Saban, has found himself, after decades living in our world, transported back to his own world at long last. He finds himself accompanied by a young girl, Mikiaia Goretusk,, called Miki, half orc daughter of his sworn enemy. This is problematic, since orcs are held in fear and suspicion in many parts of the world. He did promise to protect her, though, and he is nothing if not a man of honor.
Determined to return to his old Order of knights, Arthur begins a journey with Miki where he must keep her protected from the legacy of hatred against orcs, as well as the anger growing in the population against law and order. As the fabric of society is failing, he discovers he has been gone longer on his world than he thought, and his old allies might not be there anymore. He alsofinds his order has changed, becoming more harsh and uncompromising in their treatment of people.
Along the way, Arthur and Miki meet a woman, Hazel Midd, who helps them fight off a hag trying to kill them. They discover Hazel is a witch, with plans of her own for the order, who is willing to help them on their quest to reach the Order’s fortress. After a series of adventures, they reach the fortress, only to discover that the Order is no longer what it was with their God secretly dead. Arthur, Hazel and even Miki must discover the secret rot in the order, because if they fail, it could mean death and destruction to a world ill prepared to deal with it.
While the world building and plotting of this book are excellent, the characters are where it really shines. Arthur Shield, who was basically a narrow minded bigoted villain in Jack Bloodfist, has to re-evaluate everything he believes in. With his God dying, does that mean Saban wasn’t really a god? Does that mean justice died with him? He has met genuinely good Orcs. Does that mean his God’s teaching that they are barbarian savages that must be killed wrong? So many moral quandries must be answered now. Miki’s journey and growth is excellent as well. Since she is young, and must overcome the young’s innate trust in people while maintaining some innocence. Hazel’s journey is also fascinating, with some surprises revealed along the way giving her some added depth. The villains, of which there are several, have realistic rationale for their actions, and act accordingly. With a mix of dark and light fantasy elements, there is a bit of something for everyone in this book. I highly recommend it, and look forward to the next installment.