Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
After The Rise of Nagash trilogy by Mike Lee, Josh Reynolds, author of The Master of Mourkain, a Blood of Nagash short story, this is part of the Time of Legends series. Nagash is dead and the kingdom of Lahmia has crumbled to ruins, leaving only Neferata, a queen whose people are strewn across the desert wasteland. She is forced to take whatever blood she can find from the animals she comes across in the hope she can raise a new empire once again. Her life has been turned upside down and she has a need to take control as only others can slow her down. What makes her different from Nagash is that she has the sense of reason and sanity he didn’t, but that is a trait that can slip from her grasp easily enough.
Neferata is the aftermath of Nagash’s attempted rule, and his legacy has been left in her hands. She has a lot to live up to, and has to get the kingdom back the way it was. The story tells of what she has to do to re-build her kingdom from the ground up, and the difficulties in trusting Ushoran who could betray her so easily. Readers will get to feel the pain Neferata tolerates, how far her people have fallen and how hard it will be to bring a new branch of her people to its former glory. There is plenty of soul searching for the character, and a lot of blood to be had if she can stomach where she gets it from, but essentially it is uncertain if she can reach her goal on her own. Ushoran and Arkhan prove to be thorns in her side, and can be her undoing if she allows it. The story is well paced, and contains some amazing sections of dialogue that are at times heart stopping.
Josh Reynolds sets the story off with Neferata barely surviving the wastelands of her world. It is only her drive to succeed at all costs that can get her to realise her goal of dominion just as Nagash had a thousand years before. There is no doubt that this, like the other Nagash novels is dark, filled with deathly imagery, blood thirst and fierce fights for domination. First she has to contend with Arkhan whose master was Nagash. Arkhan is still searching for willing servants for his master, but Neferata isn’t about to submit. She is made of stronger stuff and doesn’t want to ally with anyone she sees as a potential threat, but it looks like she might not have much of a choice. It is more a case of her against the world where she encounters other undead, and dwarves, but it is the Strigoi vampires who would give her what she has wanted for a long time.
Neferata proves that she is a strong woman, not just a queen who has the ability to show her strength to her people. For a darker, blood curdling read, delve into and feel the danger of the undead as only Josh can write it.