Note: This is in no way or form a book review. I am writing a high fantasy book series that I enjoyed.
Sam Sykes is an author who I follow on Twitter and have grown to appreciate his online humour. I kept seeing his book ‘City Stained Red’ on his feed and I ordered it from the library and subsequently read all three of the books in ‘Bring Down Heaven’ series: City Stained Red, The Mortal Tally & God’s Last Breath.
The books follow 5 adventurers/mercenaries and their stories: Lenk the default leader, Kataria a Shict ( species resembling elves ), Denous one with the past, Asper the priestess of Healing God, Dreadeleon a wizard and Gareth the Rhoga ( a lizard-humanoid species ). Apologies if I didn’t get their names right. In addition, the book introduces a ton of characters of which the most important of which are Mocca a man in white Lenk meets in the beginning.
I enjoy books which have multiple characters like these. It is an impressive feat to juggle so many different characters and to do them satisfactorily. This is a massive story, each book in the series spanning about 600 pages with the last book having a length of exactly 666 pages.
This book also deals heavily with the questions about faith, Gods who never answer and humanity’s need to have a being up in the sky. It also features heaps of exciting battles sequences and the city which despite being destroyed to the fullest always seem to have someone selling curry.
Pretty much everything I could ever like all together.
NOTE 2: Significant spoilers follow.
Each of the character has a different story.
- Gareath starts by being disgusted by humanity and his only tolerance is because of Lenk and others. Once the band disbands ( like the beetles ), Gareath has no checks on his anger.
His story continues by raging against the city and ends with him realizing that he may have won the battle but there are just too many humans to actually defeat. Humans have created a system where every species has no choice but to follow their footsteps and eventually end up under their boot.
- Kataria already knew what Gareath knows. Her story revolves around where does she belong and what does she want. It is a pretty succinct description I would say.
Also, she tries for two books to prevent shicts from starting a war with humans but she fails.
- Dreadealeon is a boy and his story deals with him fighting against everyone who thinks he is a boy. He uses his power haphazardly endangering and killing without any second thought. Only does when he have too much power right at the cusp of death he grows mature.
- Denous is someone who regrets his past, pretty much haunted by his actions. He wants to redeem himself but as the violence increases he is drawn back to his old habits and eventually makes the same action again hoping that just like last time, his actions will create enough chaos for his side to prevail. It doesn’t and the last thing he sees is his own past haunting him again.
Until he is jerked back to haunt the living.
- Asper is someone who just doesn’t give up. Ever. Every time she fails, she picks herself up again. And again. And again. She does whatever she can, she hoodwinks and beguiles to save people because she actually believes in her life’s purpose as a priest.
The best story in this series is between Lenk and Mocca. Of course, at end of book 1 it is revealed that Mocca is a manifestation of the God-King Khoth-Kapira from Hell.
This is why the story is so interesting.
An atheist continuously converses with a entity prayed to by thousands of followers. A God-King/Demon & a mortal.
Throughout the series, individuals are seen to be praying to a God that never answers but they keep doing it anyway. Lenk, a sellsword, doesn’t pray to anyone.
He doesn’t pray even when he finds out that his blood contains blood of a long-dead God. Mocca/Koth-Kapira could talk to anyone but he chooses to engage with Lenk.
Their discussions revolve around Lenk’s inability to stop fighting. Lenk has been fighting for as long as he can remember & his only desire is to stop fighting in the start of the series. The series begins with him sneaking into the city to get paid and retire. And it is at the gates where he meets Mocca.
- Lenk lands in the middle of a gang-war.
- Then he inevitably started a civil war between two armies in the city.
- Then he was part of a ambush in outside the city.
As far as Lenk sees, fighting follows him everywhere. He can’t stop. Lenk desperately wants someone else to take control of his life.
Mocca convinces Lenk the only way Lenk & everyone in this world might stop fighting would be if someone Godly ( Mocca ) can guide them all.
Of course, none of this is really possible. Lenk didn’t start the gang-war, he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. It is revealed that the civil war would have started anyway, the armies were already skirmishing in the city. The ambush outside the city had nothing to do with him, he was again at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Lenk believes Mocca can stop everything. He was desperate for a life without any need to pick up the sword.
‘In their desperation, they turned to a man they don’t fully understand.’Alfred, Dark Knight 2008
Mocca can stop the wars, the enmity among all species. Mocca can take control. By literally controlling everyone.
EVERY SINGLE SPECIES.
There is more to this story that I am not getting into for example, Mocca could have easily killed Lenk whenever he wanted.
My best guess is Mocca desperately wanted someone to understand him. Mocca was as desperate as Lenk to win someone’s support.
Looking back, it was obvious that the series would end right where it began: a conversation between Lenk and now the dying Mocca.
The end is pretty great. Everyone gets what they always wanted. It is not what they thought it might be but they get it anyway. They all go their separate ways.
As I was writing this post, I realized that the series have a precursor trilogy that I may read someday too.