Humanity hasn’t been alone for almost two thousand years. Elves, wolves, vampires, all joined together with mankind to eradicate the ‘darker’ races and maintained a tentative peace until modern times. Society adapted, everyone has rules that help keep the peace in this modern era. Yet, absolute genocide is impossible when talking about creatures beyond the pale. Some hid, some buried, other were re-purposed.
Some, like Jay Fields, pass for human with a little bit extra. His abilities didn’t belong to one of the major races, but any information was buried along with the long dead boogie men. All Jay cared about was those closest to him and a job that let him hit people. He used to be a bouncer at a bar, a part-time enforcer for a loan shark, and even a fight club champion. That was four years ago, before betrayal by someone close sent him packing.
Now he’s back and trying to recover a life he left behind. Questions of origin aren’t his only problems. His ex-girlfriend is a vampire. His part-time boss doesn’t think he’s up to snuff anymore. There’s a missing elf who might have some answers, and Jay’s best friend is caught up in something dangerous…
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.
Stephan Morse contacted me here at Books and Beyond Reviews to review his book. I read the information and description with a small sense of trepidation. Not so much because of the description per se, but because it was a fantasy book. Some of you will remember my review of the fantasy-based steampunk horror, Skyships Over Innsmouth that I read, reviewed, and hated due to a somewhat inaccurate description. Given that was only my second foray into the world of fantasy proper after Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, I was disappointed. But I thought I would give this one a chance.
One of the first things that hit me was the setting. Once Lost Lords is a fantasy story set in what appears to be a close approximation of Continental USA, not a fictional realm. Coupled with that is that rather than being set in a pseudo-Medieval era, this seems to be relatively modern; the population of Morse’s world have mobile phones, cars, all the sorts of simple tech we take for granted but would never see in a typical fantasy story. Already I’m intrigued. The book continued to clamour for my attention in taking a simpler approach and not overwhelming with as many fantasy creatures as possible, keeping mostly to humans, elves, vampires and wolves. This meant for a greater chance to really get to know the subtleties of each character type.
The lead character, Jay Fields, is not your typical fantasy hero or villain either. He’s just a semi-human trying to make a living using what assets he has. In his case, his size and strength, and his ability to track people, casting his mind out over the land while holding something that belongs to them. This makes roles in finding lost people and debt collection fantastic lines of work for him. Beyond this, he collects all manner of trinkets, eats, and drinks a little more than he should. Very different from the usual fantasy leading man.
He gets caught up in something a bit darker when his friend, a law enforcement agent, needs to find someone. Things become strange when Jay can’t get any answers from his friend about what has him so worked up, what is so important about this case. All he is told is there is a massive quarter of a million dollar reward. One someone who might be able to shed some light on things, an elf named Evan, calls him Lord things get crazier. Jay finds himself in a race against time and his friend to find the answers to this whole mystery, along with answers about himself. Throw in an obsessive (sort of) ex-girlfriend who is also a partial vampire, and a short-tempered werewolf employer and Jay has plenty to contend with.
Stephan Morse has put together a wonderful fantasy story in Once Lost Lords. I was uncertain given my love of the works of Sir Terry Pratchett, and that I really didn’t take well to supposed-fantasy horror Skyships Over Innsmouth. But this book restored my faith in the genre, and having discovered there are more books in this series means there are more to enjoy. I found this book to be dark, yet humorous in a sarcastic way. The action elements were fast paced and well-placed, and the fantasy elements were well used making for the beginning of what could be a great series.