After a stint of science fiction, I decided it was time to dive back into some good old sword and sorcery fantasy. Thankfully, there is a recent release that promised all the swords and magic that I could hope for: Duskfall, by Christopher Husberg. A party fantasy (or a fantasy that follows a party of characters), the book tells the story of a group of POV’s as they all journey across the land seeking answers to different questions.
The group is comprised of an amnesiac, a psychic addict, a priest, a prophet, a vampire, an elf, and a warrior. While it sounds like the start of a bad fantasy bar joke, the group’s eclectic make up actually was one of the biggest selling points of the book for me. However, one negative issue that runs parallel to this book strength is that the group only comes together about a third of the way into the book. Duskfall begins with the various characters all dealing with separate personal problems in their own corners of the world. Each of the main cast discovers that the answer to their problems lies in the same general direction as one another and they slowly group up and go on an adventure. The characters are quite enjoyable, despite two of them possessing character attributes that I personally can’t stand (addiction and amnesia). Their personalities vary enough to make group interaction and dialogue lively and fun, and the amnesiac and addict were refreshing enough that I enjoyed their POVs despite my initial misgivings.
The world of Duskfall is an interesting one, with well developed factions, cities, and cultures that made the worldbuilding feel fleshed out. The magic system of the world revolves around psychics who come in the three traditional flavors, telekinetics, telepaths, and clairvoyants – though Husberg adds enough spice to make it his own. The majority of the plot rests on the back of our amnesiac, Knot, and his quest to discover who he was. Near the beginning of the book he discovers he has many skills he doesn’t know about, some of which revolve around being good at killing people. His journey of self discovery is the keystone from which the other characters stories are built, and I was actually impressed with the reveal of his past. There are enough twists in the book to keep you on your toes, but not so many that they seem outlandish.
The book’s issues actually come from two primary areas for me. First, while I enjoyed the city and culture world building a lot, there seemed to be a surprising amount of information missing from certain elements of the plot. I had a lot of trouble understanding the happenings of a few of the later events in the book. While I got the sense that Husberg was trying to create an air of mystery, it ended up confusing me. Second, I sometimes found the prose to be a bit halting, with shorter sentences taking me out of the action with an overuse of punctuation.
Despite my complaints, Duskfall was still an enjoyable read. For me it landed squarely in the middle of the pack of this years releases – neither bad nor mind blowing. I think I will check out the sequel when it is eventually released, but it will not be the top of my list. If you enjoy party fantasies, and are partial to any of the character types I listed before, you might want to check out Duskfall.
Rating: Duskfall – 7.0/10