Well this is fun! I encountered the author at Fantasycon. She is cool, charming and funny – I had a hunch she was a good writer. And I was right.
After being chased by a dragon, tricked by a demon, almost killed by a psychopathic gang boss and hunted by a ferocious arrachid assassin, Breed’s life really takes a turn for the worst…
I’m not going to continue with the rather chatty back cover blurb, and in case you think I’ve already given away too much of the story with the above sentence, know that all that happens in the opening section… Yep. Davies writes with the brakes off. This is an OTT protagonist who has been brought up on the wrong side of – well, everything, really. Breed, unsurprisingly, has Mother issues as his isn’t exactly brimming over with fond maternal feelings for her part-human son.
Here’s a thing – my enthusiasm for anti-heroes has somewhat waned. So how did I get on with Breed? Initially I thought I might have a problem, but Davies is far too canny to ringfence Breed as a mere grotesque with no moral compass. We learn of his vulnerabilities as he is pitchforked in the middle of his full-on adventure – not that he wears his heart on his sleeve. In fact, I’m not even sure he has a heart… But the humour certainly lightens things up and there isn’t an ounce of self-pity in his characterisation. Additionally, he doesn’t undertake his quest alone – along the way he picks up several companions.
The first is a scholarly priest, Tobias. I don’t think I’m revealing too much if I let on that they don’t meld all that well as a team. The tension between the pair of them creates all sorts of enjoyable tension and comedy, as well as pulling the story forward. The second companion is a revolting vagrant who is happy to answer to Breed’s name for him – Tosspot. Surprisingly, this mismatched trio, with another character also thrown into the mix, manage to more or less muddle their way through most of the plot, before events overtake them.
While the storyline follows the classic epic Fantasy narrative – a quest to find a particular artefact with great power for good or evil, Davies’ choice of protagonist and his happy band puts quite a different spin on this setup. Most other books featuring anti-heroes and starting with an epic fantasy scenario soon deviate into something else. However, Breed holds true to the classic epic fantasy trope, which gives the story an interesting twist right at the very end, which I absolutely loved.
All in all, this outrageous, riotous blast of adventure delivers in all the ways that matter and I am eager to read the sequel – soon as you like, please!