Recommended by a friend on Twitter, The Execution counted as my first tentative steps into I J Black's world of Amnar, and it didn't disappoint. Originally intending to read just a few pages while waiting for the washing machine to finish its cycle, I found myself on the couch a few hours later with the damp clothes still inside the drum and a finished book in front of me.
Right from the off, Black's strong character development shines through as we're taken on a tour-de-force of the ancient society in which a brewing political maelstrom is about to shockingly explode, and introduced to what I assume will be the main protagonists of the Amnar series (indeed, a lot is left open for future works, but not in such a way that it feels forced). The social and professional hierarchies of Amnari way of life are rigid and complex, but never confusing; it all seems to fit together very well. Black's world and its colourful inhabitants come across as very natural and believable, and as such it makes for compelling page-turning from the first to the last.
It's actually nice to see an original, interesting and robust fantasy setting for once. Too often we're asked to go that extra mile and suspend plausibility when it comes to a world, its characters and the associated plot lines because their authors see things in their creations that they can't quite actualise in their writing. Not here though. The Execution flows perfectly and feels good, like that old comfortable pair of slippers you have. You know the ones I mean. They're snug, they're warm and they just FIT. You'll sink into this strange, alien world and feel like you belong. Like you've been there from the start. The only trouble is that once you've put your slippers on, you don't want to take them off again, and full credit to the author for that. The idiom "hook, line and sinker" has never been more apt. I'm caught like a little fish, and I want more.
You know, I only meant to write a short paragraph in this little box, and I've digressed to the point of waffling about comfortable footwear. Maybe that's the point; I've not been enthused enough to write a review about anything in a long time. The Execution is a cracking read that I simply couldn't put down. I'd advise it to anyone, but especially to those like myself that read a lot of fiction and feel that many authors are just going through the motions these days, and are in need of something fresh. I'm genuinely looking forward to reading The Inheritor.