In this gritty fantasy swashbuckler from Kearney (Hawkwood’s Voyage), the first in a new series, the inhabitants of Umer, a world forsaken by its creator, live passionately, with no hope of life after death. Legends speak of an elder race, the Weren, whose blood lives on in the mutated Urmen, “shattered travesties of humanity,” and in young Rol Cortishane, raised on stories of those ancient days by his grandfather Ardisan. When an angry mob turns on the old man, accusing him of witchcraft, Ardisan urges Rol to sail to the city of Gascar to seek the mysterious Michal Psellos. In Gascar, Rol learns about his Weren heritage, gains a magic scimitar and falls desperately in love with Rowen, an assassin trained by Psellos.
That was a really fast read 😀 Yes, with merely 303 pages, Paul Kearney’s The Mark of Ran really doesn’t range among my standard 500+ page books, but honestly true art lies in brevity sometimes.
For some weird reason this book somehow felt like a crossover of The Lies of Locke Lamora meets Pirates of the Carribean, but Kearney’s vivid characters and often lyrical prose make the book much more than a mere blend. I really did enjoy the darkness and utter hopelessness of the world created here – if you’re looking for a romanticized portrait of a pirate’s life, go look elsewhere.
The Mark of Ran is definitely one of those ‘first books’ as it is a mere introduction to the story, setting the foundations for characters in a world that waits to be explored further in upcoming installments. I’m glad that I picked up its sequel This Forsaken Earth right away so I can go on reading, even though – for whatever reason – Bantam Spectra dropped the series after Kearney was just done writing the third book… *gasp!* So yes, this is an unfinished series so far, but the third book is written and will be published by Solaris as soon as Spectra gives up the publishing rights. And thus there’s hope that this happens soon, because I definitely want to read more of Kearney’s awesome prose and characters 😀
If you’re looking for a fast joyride of awesomeness of a read, go and check it out 🙂