Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes has been hailed as one of the biggest fantasy debuts ever. Sam follows in the footsteps of writers like Joe Abercrombie, Pat Rothfuss, Scott Lynch and Tom Lloyd, pretty exalted company to be in and each one a hard act to follow.
Lenk is an adventurer, and he commands - in the loosest way imaginable - a band of not-so-merry men and women. A mismatched crew made up of a Shictish woman, Kataria, deadly with a bow and who regards any race other than the Shict as simply ‘less than’; a Dragonman, Goriath, a wall of strength, determined to die a glorious death in battle and who regards all humans as vermin; Denoas, a self-centered thief with far too many knives secreted about his person and who you don’t want to be left alone in a room with - especially if he needs to know something; Asper, a priestess whose calling dictates that she go out in the world as a healer and who gets lots of practice by staying with this crew and finally Dreadaeleon, a young Mage with impressive skills but who is still learning his art and has no people skills whatsoever.
This rag-tag mob is escorting The Lord Emissary on board a ship when it is attacked by pirates. Just when they think they have the pirates beaten, strange and demonic creatures rise up out of the sea, overpowering everyone and taking with them a book, The Tome Of The Undergates, a sacred manuscript that contains the secret of how to open the undergates. With no other options, The Lord Emissary engages Lenk and his crew - for a not inconsiderable sum of money - to track down the creatures and recover the tome before all hell breaks loose..literally.
You will enjoyed reading Tome of the Undergates from the first page, Sam Sykes writes with real poetry in places and he has a knack for constructing sentences with rhythm and tempo that make the reading fun and the story flow. The characters are nicely drawn with quite distinct voices and despite the story taking place in basically two locations he has a created the beginnings of a world which hangs together pretty well while being populated by different races, religions and colours. The action too comes thick and fast and the pace doesn’t let up much for its 600-odd page length. Every battle is bloody and brutal and if you like your violence with no-holds barred then you’ll be in heaven reading this.
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Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out. Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.
About the Author
Samuel Sykes began writing this book when he was seventeen. He lives in the US.
· First Edition First Printing
· Hardcover: 704 pages
· Publisher: Gollancz (15 April 2010)
· ISBN-10: 0575090286
· ISBN-13: 978-0575090286
· Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 5 cm
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