by Kevin Harkness
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Demons are invading the Midlands for the first time in centuries. The farmers have no defences against the murderous creatures. Swords in the hands of ordinary soldiers have no effect against demons, for the ability to resist a demon's power-a projection of paralyzing fear-cannot be taught. Garet's life is forever changed the night his Midlands family is attacked. Demonstrating a rare talent for resisting demon fear, Garet is taken to the city of Shirath to become a Demonbane: one who can withstand the demons' psychic assault, trained in combat, and learned in demon lore. But the ancient city isn't a safe haven, it's a death trap. While opposing political forces vie for the throne, a new demon terrorizes the citizens. To save Shirath, Garet must find friends and allies quickly, because the biggest threat to the city isn't the demons, but the people living within the city's walls.
City of Demons is an epic fantasy that takes us on one young man’s journey from the farmlands to the cities of Midland. Filled with demons, battles, political conflict, suspense and intrigue this is sure to enchant fantasy lovers. Harkness weaves a tale that will leave you breathless. I consumed this over the course of three evening and was sadden to see it end.
The tale begins when we meet Garet, he is a young sheep herder, who lives on a small farm with his family. He loves his mom and his little sister but he lives in fear of his abusive father and manipulative brothers. Garet dreams of escaping. As he watches the herds he dreams about the cities he has never seen and wonders what the roads are paved of. A need to protect his mother and baby sister, keep him from running away. One evening his life is forever changes when his family is attacked by a demon. As his father and brothers cower in fear, young Garet finds he is able to resist “demon fear” and slays the demon. When it’s discovered he has this rare talent, he is taken to the city of Shirath. Here he trains to become a Demonbane. He he is schooled in combat, demon lore, and how to resist the demon’s physic power. The tale that unfolds was breathtakingly beautiful, had depth and characters I came to adore.
Garet has led a simple, mostly miserable life on a small farm. Until his journey begins he has never left his home. Viewing the world through his eyes was simplistic, beautiful and fascinating. He is bright, brave and inquisitive. He absorbs the world around him, questions everything and sees the world with an understanding beyond his years. While he is excited by all around him, a part of him yearns for his mother, sister and the open fields of his farm. The town’s people were fascinating and colorful. The Masters and students from within the Demonbane school(s) depicted all personality types. Some I adored and others I loathed. The demons were all unique and utterly terrifying. The power they held and the changes in their behavior made for some heart-racing scenes.
The world building was fascinating and all told from Garet’s point of view. Harkness gives us more than a mystical realm with horrific demons and exciting battles. He shares with us kingdoms and kings. The tale is filled with political power struggles, deception and fear. I became completely enthralled in this dark world. I loved watching Garet try to find his place and grow. He is faces many challenges; making friends, learning, choosing allies and finding truth. The school and its hierarchy was complex and not free from issues. The change in demon behavior made the tale suspenseful, as did the people’s changing opinions of the Demonbanes. I became completely invested in Garet and his quest to save them all. The tale had a nice slow pace and allowed the reader to absorb the details and underlying conflicts. The author provides details as Garet learns them keeping the reader engaged. Sketches throughout the novel of the demons were imaginative. Harkness vividly described the demons bringing them to life and kept me spellbound.
I highly recommend City of Demons to fantasy fans. The world and fleshed out characters will leave you begging for more. I have added Kevin Harkness to my authors to watch list and would revisit this world again.