5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Review: Fade to Black by Francis Knight,
This review is from: Fade to Black: Book 1 of the Rojan Dizon Novels (Paperback)
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 entirely believable place, horrific in its details, and Knight throws you in at the deep end - quite literally - starting the story in the dingy squalor of the lower levels of the city. It's a world that only ever gets second hand light, bounced off mirrors (if that) and the darkness hides evil deeds done by those from the Heights. The city is like one big metaphor for the rich - again quite literally - s***ting on the poor. But it manages to be so without being overly preachy.
The characters are great, with Rojan shining as the narrator. He's a cowardly, chauvinistic opportunist, but you can't help but like him, even before he starts stepping up to the plate of the challenges he's facing. Other, more minor, characters are just as good, from warrior Jake to unlikely hero Pasha, and there's plenty of damage to go round to add interesting layers and motivations.
Because this isn't just 'dark' fantasy in the literal 'it's a dark place' sense. Fade to Black deals with some challenging themes, and doesn't shy away from gore and violence. Which, personally, I like in a book - because it's always satisfying to see these empires of evil toppled by a plucky hero in a way that would likely never happen in the real world.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It's one that will lurk with you for a while - for all it reads like a fast paced adventure story with no real depth, there are as many layers to the story as there are to the city of Mahala.