Tim Akers,
The Horns of Ruin
(Pyr, 2010)

Eva Forge lives to kick ass and honor the name of the warrior god Morgan. The fact that Morgan is dead, betrayed, means that she is the last of Morgan's paladins. The fact that her cult now faces deadly, mysterious attackers means that Eva will have to face not just weapons, but secrets, politics and panic on her own.

Eva's strong voice carries Tim Akers' The Horns of Ruin at a good, action-filled pace from cover to cover. Her supporting cast offers intrigue and humorous relief. However, no one, not even Eva, can claim a fully developed character. Akers is particularly short on backstory. While a couple protagonists do receive some growth, it is more hinted at than realized in the writing.

Arguably, this book has enough to do with explaining the city's history, current layout, and the workings of the various factions. The combination of steampunk devices with sword-and-sorcery action adds to the confusion. The city of Ash contains many complicated details and these are relayed to the reader in a kind of rhythm -- chorusing what we already know and steadily adding new verses without losing pace with the action. This method is not as smooth as it could be, but it's serviceable and won't bore or overwhelm.

The plot of The Horns of Ruin contains large twists that are actually quite predictable and many small points that are not. The use of history and knowledge in this world's logistics is clever without forcing messages on anyone. Everything builds on a fight scene. These are written with aesthetics in mind; it's a shame this story isn't visual. As it is, these grew rather repetitive to me towards the end, but it could be a matter of taste.

Nevertheless, the true core of the story is simple: Eva kicks ass. As such, this is a fun, quick read with cool images thrown in. The cover image by Benjamin Carre and the chapter fonts are definitely awesome. But I doubt I'd read any sequels.

book review by
Whitney Mallenby

22 September 2012

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