Posted by The Steampunk Librarian 24th November 2010
The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers
What do you do when you're one of the last of a dying religious cult?
If you're Eva Forge, the last Paladin of the Cult of Morgan and the heroine of The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers, you fight with every last heartbeat for your dead god. Eva lives in the city of Ash, once home to three gods who were brothers. Two gods died long ago when one murdered the other, but the cults of all three still exist in the city. Eva's cult has lost members and is dying off slowly…and then, quite suddenly, events occur which make Eva believe the end of her cult is being hastened rapidly.
If this does not sound all that steampunky, that's because The Horns of Ruin is more fantasy than technological gearcrunching. Eva fights with magically charged weapons and spells, and the gods of her world are quite real and quite godlike. But the city of Ash is filled with monorails and glass and iron and "pedigears" and strange alleyways, like any self-respecting steampunk metropolis should be, and this mashup of dark urban fantasy and sci-fi (some have coined the term "noired" – noir + weird) tells a twisting, complex story.
The dialogue in The Horns of Ruin is one of its best aspects, sharp and fast-paced like a movie from the 1930s. Eva is aggressive and feisty, regardless of whether she's protecting the remaining members of the Cult of Morgan or sparring with members from the rival cults. She encounters several different factions in an increasingly murky, multifaceted conflict which goes back to the initial betrayal amongst the god-brothers, finding that the stories handed down aren't necessarily truthful depictions of what really happened. (And, meanwhile, there are other races outside the city, possibly looking to invade…)
In summation, The Horns of Ruin is a dense fantasy with a steampunk bent, which can get confusing at times and leaves some unanswered questions (although it's possible this is part of a series). Eva is a refreshing protagonist, however, who tries to cut through the mysticism and explain what's happening, even as she fights like the holy terror she is. And as a librarian, I have to love a tale which includes a class of people called the Librarians Desolate.
We have a copy of The Horns of Ruin to give away! To enter the contest, post a comment below, telling us which of the following cults sounds most appealing to you (provided you had a choice and could enter the cult of your own free will):
- Amon the Scholar
- Alexander the Healer
- Morgan the Warrior
Deadline for entries is Friday, December 10, and the drawing will be in our usual madcap fashion. Good luck!