Darien by C.F. Iggulden

This is kind of like an old school heroic fantasy, none of the characters are your ‘pure’ heroes, there are dark and unpleasant aspects to all of them, but they all are generally trying to do the decent thing.

There are quite a few POV characters. We have Tellius, an old man in exile who runs a gang of child thieves, Elias a hunter with a knack of seeings things, and Nancy a young women drawn into major events via a liaison with a young man called Daw. Those three are the main POV’s but we also have quite a few from Daw and another young gunslinger called Vic Deeds as well as a few other minor ones.

The world of Darien is one where people have knacks, kind of innate magical abilities that allow them to do one or two things. Elias has a knack of seeing somewhat into the immediate future, just a couple of minutes, and when Vic Deeds notices this he realises the potential of it and brings Elias to the general he works for. Objects can also be imbued with magic, allowing them to perform particular functions and there are golems and other magical things. The city of Darien is an old one, remnants of an older empire, and is ruled by twelve families and a king as a figurehead.

The whole time I was reading this I was reminded of David Gemmell. Between the character types, the multiple POV’s, magic just being magic without a load of rules, the battles and fights, I just had a very enjoyable time reading (well listening) to this. I really liked how the fighting men saw the potential in Elias’ knack. And the more the story progressed the more right they were. It was very cool.

I thought for the length of the book (it’s fairly short) that each major character was drawn well and I was rooting for them all, even when they strayed into dubious territory. The story was straight-forward enough, and it all happens over only a few days, but it moved along well and there were a few times when the story went places I didn’t expect. There are references to Rome, Carthage and the bible throughout the book so I don’t know if this is supposed to be some alternative history or not, it’s definitely not our world as we know it.

All in all a very enjoyable book, nothing profound or genre shaking but a great read nevertheless.

4 stars out of 5

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