As the world of independent and small press publishers grows, readers are able to discover amazing new genre mashups. “Wrath of the Fury Blade” by Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee takes two well-known and well-loved genres — epic fantasy and mystery — and attempts to roll them together into a political murder mystery studded with magic and elves.
“Wrath of the Fury Blade” (Shadow Dragon Press) shines with Reva Lunaria and her dogged determination to solve a high-profile case that starts with a government official being sliced cleanly in two from top to bottom. And while there is nothing revolutionary about the path Reva follows to solve the case or the roadblocks she encounters — a new partner she doesn’t want, secret government agencies and a villain holding a grudge and bent on revenge — there is nothing out of the ordinary either. The formula is followed, and a satisfactory resolution is reached by the end of the novel.
Where “Wrath of the Fury Blade” struggles the most is the world building, an element that must be done well for an epic fantasy story to truly shine. Elves are not the only species to inhabit the Kingdom of Tenyl. There’s mention of humans, dwarves, dark elves, and halpbloeden, non-pure elves. The murders are tied up in the prejudices between several of these groups that are centuries old.
Habiger and Kissee, beyond explaining the Purity Laws in a long-winded info dump in chapter 7, leave key details about the government, the secret groups, and the prejudices they harbor out of the story. Then they write in additional problems — a sudden drug addiction and hatred toward full magic users — that the mind starts to reel trying to keep it all straight. The story may connect with more readers and have more of an impact if Habiger and Kissee had homed in on one or two societal problems from Tenyl that are reflected in our own society instead of what feels like dozens. As a result, the story suffers, and their intended message is lost because there are so many layers and prejudices involved that it muddies the message they wish to deliver and the path to solving and understanding the murder becomes unclear. At some points in the story, the reader may feel as if the plot is no longer focused on the murder case.
To provide further distraction, many major characters have names that start with the same letter and the authors vacillate between calling characters by their last name and their first name without a full name introduction. This leads to confusion and rereading to piece together who is being referred to at any point in a scene. There are many characters to follow and due to the odd naming conventions employed, it is easy to lose track. Readers may feel there are too many characters with similar sounding names, along with too many political layers and struggle to finish the novel.
Due to weak world building and rambling info dumps detailing nearly every physical detail of nearly every character Reva and her partner encounter, “Wrath of the Fury Blade” becomes an overly complicated story with an ambiguous moral lesson. These elements drag down the thrilling unique murder case promised in the prologue and in the end, the reader may be disappointed in the novel as a whole.