Evelyn Shepherd – Summoner’s Dirge (The Last Canticle #1)

dirgeAuthor: Evelyn Shepherd
Reviewer: Eladio
Publisher:Loose Id
Genre:m/m fantasy
ISBN:9781623005535

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Summary: : Because of the strange tattoos that decorate his body, Damir Rosen has lived a secluded, quiet life on his farm outside of Canaan. But the peace and calm of his daily life is shaken when he finds a broken and half-dead man in his field. Taking a grave risk, Damir heals Balin and discovers a passion he never thought possible in the exotic stranger from another land. On a mission to kill the king of Pheor when his airship crashes in the mountains, Balin grieves that he’ll die before he ever finishes the job. An unexpected angel—who glows with the strength of the stars—saves him, though, and now Balin must decide whether remain with the sensual man who brought him back from death or finish the job that could stop a war.
 Tragedy strikes, forcing Balin and Damir onto the run. With the aid of a group of sky pirates, they begin a journey, one Damir only dreamed of ever taking. If Damir can overcome his grief, and learn to trust Balin, they may just be able to uncover the truth behind Damir’s healing powers, save the world, and each other in the process.

Review: : Balin is an assassin sent by an emperor to kill a king who is about to start a civil war, and if Balin fails to do the job, he will pay with his life. After an airship crash strands Balin near the isolated farm of sweet, innocent healer Damir who takes him in and tends to his wounds, Balin decides to blow off his mission and settle down with Damir for the rest of their lives. However, trouble comes a-knocking in the form of the warring king’s insistent general who recognizes Damir as a being with special powers who can aid his cause. This puts Balin and Damir on the run to discover what Damir is and what they should do about it.
The competently written story is not a witty steampunk romp as I had hoped for after reading the blurb, but more of a derivative high fantasy, which is especially derivative in one of the later chapters when it helps itself to the spiders-of-Mirkwood scene straight out of the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The plot is too meandering for my tastes, though it works to the usual high fantasy standards with the little band of questing characters roaming about the landscape and wasting time on little side excursions to come to the aid of other characters that they meet along the way.
The writing style is florid in the usual high fantasy tradition (“His eyebrows grew high and tight on his forehead like acrobatic caterpillars,” and “He could taste his terror, a sour sludge that weighed his tongue down,” and “His amber orbs would glaze over like candied ginger”). But the dialog is jarringly modern and laced with American slang such as when one character says, “Well, who’s ready to get the fuck out of Dodge?”
And there are long, detailed sex scenes in almost every chapter that feature clenching assholes, puckered entrances, one-two-three fingers, and pulsating dicks, and all this slows the book to a crawl. On the bright side, the story does have a show-down and a real ending before setting up for the next book, so readers who hate cliffhangers won’t have to worry about that here. Though this book wasn’t my thing, I would recommend it to fans of derivative fantasy series like The Sword of Shannara, readers who like frequent sex scenes, and those who love long meandering quest stories.

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