No Return: A Novel of Jeroun by Zachary Jernigan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A tournament is announced and three warriors band together to journey to Danoor to take part. Meanwhile, two mages plot to travel to the outer atmosphere to confront the god Adrash...
Over the past few years, I've made no secret of the fact that I'm partial to fantasy that dares to step outside the Tolkien-via-Dungeons-and-Dragons box. No Return certainly fits the bill.
No Return is one of those books that I struggle to describe. Cosmic fantasy akin to Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, and Jack Kirby? Partly, but it's also a hero's journey, at least to a point.
Vedas is the closest thing to a straight up hero in the book. He wears a Blacksuit, a garment made of the skin of one of the eldermen, beings who predate humans. Look, I said this was a special book, just follow me. He's torn between his loyalty to the order and his feelings toward Churls. Churls is a gambler, drunk, and quite a fighter, struggling with her feelings toward Vedas and is haunted by the host of her dead daugher. Berun, the artifical man, is conflicted between his loyaly toward his master and his feelings toward his new friends. And that's just the warriors journeying to the tournament.
While the tournament thread was my favorite part of the book, the mages looking to supplant Adrash were a close second. How can you not love mages flying to the moon to confront a god? Ebn and Pol both proved to be well rounded characters. Lots of twists in the mage thread. Adrash reminded me of a combination of the Silver Surfer and one of Jack Kirby's later creations, the New Gods. He was unlike the usual petulant child or all-knowing figure gods are normally portrayed as in fantasy. Adrash is a force of nature you do not want to cross.
The subject matter reminded me of Roger Zelazny, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, and Philip Jose Farmer, fantasy with shades of science fiction. The worldbuilding was just the way I like it, deep but not deep enough to drown in. The writing was detailed without being overwritten, again, something I'm a big fan of. For a fantasy book, there's a fair amount of sex to go with the violence.
I'm probably just being fickle by not slapping a five star rating on this. It's the first book in a trilogy but feels fairly self contained. I really don't have anything to complain about. I enjoyed the shit out of this and look forward to whatever Zachary Jernigan serves up next. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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