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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: Fade to Black by Francis Knight
So, the Orbit marketing team did a really good job of getting this blasted all over my twitter and Facebook and making me fall in serious cover lust. It's just such a striking image - I love it - and reading the blurb only made me more interested. I was pleased that the story lived up to the promise.

The great strength of the story is the world. Mahala is an...
Published 16 months ago by Liberty Gilmore

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrific world building, cliche story.
There are some great ideas here and an intriguing premise that sadly, just didn't deliver. The world building is terrific, the best thing in this novel by a mile. The characters have no discernible depth and the plot was one long cliché that reads like a checklist of currently fashionable themes: steampunk meets dystopia meets urban fantasy meets practical magic in...
Published 13 months ago by Book Critic


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3.0 out of 5 stars A Painless Read, 7 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels (Paperback)
The book brought to mind early Morcock (though I think it's better written than early Morcock). The main character ends up on a quest through the unknown fighting baddies with magic. There are a lot of things mentioned in passing or that happen in passing that seem irrelevant, but in the end are really important to the story. This irritated me because I'd start to wonder what would happen and then nothing...until much later. However, the author did a good job keeping me turning the pages.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyed this debut, 1 Mar 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels (Paperback)
Fantasy is something that can be very hard to get right. You need to have solid world building, a set of rules for the magick's involved, a convincing history and then you have to work out your various cultures giving them an identity. All that and more were carefully added within this title and when Francis backed that up with a great storyline, top notch prose alongside a cast that really adds flavour all round makes this a cracking debut.

I really can't wait to see what develops in future instalments and here's hoping that the second book curse doesn't strike as this is going to give me something to look forward to. Great stuff.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a fan of fantasy but this changed all that., 21 Mar 2013
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Wonderful world. Interesting characters and a fantastic sense of grittiness that i often find lacking in fantasy books. Fully recommended
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, 18 Oct 2013
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Reasonably good storyline but writing is irritating, dull and slow. I cannot force myself to finish it due to the gratuitous descriptions of the character feelings and perceptions.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but predictable and with too many silly twist endings, 11 Oct 2013
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels (Paperback)
The city of Mahala is located in an enclosed pass, the city built up the sides of the mountains over hundreds of years. Ravaged by plague, magical chaos and religious discord, the city is barely ticking over, relying on the mysterious substance 'Glow' to power its machines. Rojan Dizon, a private investigator and secret mage, is forced to go deep into the underworld to find his missing niece, but what he will find there will transform the future of the city.

Fade to Black is the debut novel by Francis Knight and the first in the Rojan Dizon trilogy, which continues in Before the Fall (out now) and Last to Rise (out in November). It mixes elements of 'magepunk', steampunk and urban fantasy to create something that could be new and innovative, but which fails to fulfil its full potential.

Which is not to say that the book isn't fun along the way. The novel uses a mixture of fairly familiar archetypes for its characters, from Rojan himself (hard-boiled mage detective, useless at relationships or managing money, lives for one-night stands and occasional alcoholic over-indulgences) to Jake (ice-queen warrior with trust issues) to, well, everyone really. However, the author gives the characters enough depth and backstory to make them convincing, even if they often remain familiar.

The book makes much of its setting (not least on the impressive cover), a vast vertical city built in a narrow mountain canyon. Mahala isn't exactly the next Ankh-Morpork or New Crobuzon as far as iconic fantasy cities go, but it serves reasonably well, with effective descriptions of vertiginous drops, seedy bars and cramped shops. The worldbuilding is interesting, if at times confused: characters are simultaneously told that there is nothing interesting outside the city, but also retain a fairly detailed knowledge of the neighbouring kingdoms and their economic dependency on Mahala. This is a contradiction which Knight satisfyingly ties up in the sequel, but in this first volume just seems confused. What works better is the magic system, which is based around the application of pain. The way magic works seems logical and well thought-through, with some interesting applications that become clearer (and more disturbing) in the latter half of the novel.

Where the novel threatens to unravel completely is the completely over-the-top ending, in which plot revelations that would be acceptable in isolation are stacked on top of other, more ludicrous and cliched revelations until the whole thing teeters on the edge of collapse. It's only Knight's skill in getting through the plot twist overload and establishing a potentially strong new set-up at the end of the novel that leaves the reader with hope that future books won't be quite so implausible. Fortunately, a third of the way through the sequel, it does appear that Knight's writing skills have improved between the two books.

Fade to Black (***) mixes potentially strong and fascinating ideas with occasionally dubious execution and the employment of a few too many fantasy stand-bys. The ending borders on the silly, but the author just about manages to hold everything together to deliver a fast-paced, enjoyable read (if you don't think about it too much).
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting premise, 22 May 2013
By 
H. Ashford "hashford" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels (Paperback)
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This is a dark city-based fantasy that, in its strangeness, reminded me of China Mieville's urban sci-fi. The vertical city is amazing - we start in the squalor of the lowest levels, where daylight hardly ever reaches and ghastly deeds can be concealed. The city is governed by a self-serving Ministry aided by a corrupt religion which keeps the underclass in their place.

The Rojan Dizon character is very well drawn. Not always likable, he can be sexist and sometimes cowardly, but he is definitely in 3 dimensions. He runs a huge risk in using his pain-mage powers, but it pays off for him as he uncovers the dark secrets of Mahala.

Highly recommended, only just falling short of 5*s.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pretty good, 18 April 2013
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D. Graham (Wakefield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels (Paperback)
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I quite enjoyed this book - interesting characters doing interesting things in a world that I'd not come across before. A vertical city, ruled from above by the ominous Ministry, and a Pain Mage trying to find a missing girl.

It's a sort of noir urban fantasy, well written with a unique setting. There's a sequel on the way and I'm looking forward to it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 23 Mar 2013
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Mr. M. L. Cawood-campbell (Sheffield, Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels (Paperback)
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I romped through this. Very enjoyable. The concept of 'pain Magic' is fascinating. I'm intrigued as to where Francis Knight will take these Rojan Dizon books. I am really looking forward to further explorations of the 'underworld'.
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Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels
Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels by Francis Knight (Paperback - 26 Feb 2013)
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