Hey everyone, hope you’re all well. 🙂
It’s been a while since I posted a review, I know, but I’ve been focusing on writing my second novel and time is always a problem! But I’m back with a review of the first novel set in the World of Jeroun – No Return.
This novel is brilliant. The world of Jeroun is incredible and terrifying – a world where the skins of a dead race can be used for power and protection; where mages use their magic to enter into the planet’s orbit; where a god looks down on Jeroun and wrestles with a decision that could mean the end of everything and everyone.
There is so much going on in this novel! As a writer I was astounded by how much Zachary managed to pour into this tale – as with Erikson’s massive narratives, the myriad stories taking place on Jeroun are all memorable and intriguing, adding not only a sense of vast time and history to the world but also managing to echo in the thoughts of the characters, giving them even more flesh and emotion. The people of Jeroun are inherently terrified of their world and the god above them, and how this terror and stubbornness exists alongside the excellent world-building is truly something sublime to explore.
But Zachary’s characters are the stars, here – Vedas, Churls, Berun, Ebn, Pol and even Adrash shine in each chapter they appear in. Vedas seems to be the lodestone of the narrative, but really only when taking the climax into consideration, but each of the others also play very significant roles throughout the tale, managing to stand on their own, for their own unique reasons. I’m actually terrified of what some of them could achieve – and here I’ll make another comparison to Erikson: as when a particularly powerful mage in the Malazan world unveils his or her warren or warrens and the reader is astounded at the level of power and capacity for destruction, the same applies here. Psychologically, these characters are incredibly complicated, and how some of them interact with each other gives the novel its heart and emotional centre. Zachary manages to explore a great variety of subjects through his characters, another reason why this novel works on many levels.
In fact, I want to re-read it before the next book, Shower of Stones, is released – not to refresh my memory, but to learn as much as I can from Zachary’s writing – he has, alongside Steven Erikson, become a writer I know I will learn a lot from. But forget about that – No Return is at once a twisted, dirty-mirror echo of the kinds of fantasy that has come before it, and also something new, bold and visionary. Hell of a read.
10 / 10
Check out Zachary’s site for all the info you’ll need regarding how and where to order, as well as more information about his short stories (I’ll be reviewing Bottom of the Sea next) and his other work.
Until next time,