The problems with Flauríë Amanté’s latest novel, Twelve Rings and the Sky, can be summed up entirely by its opening passages:
The smoke from the burning city below rose to sting the eyes of the two struggling atop its tallest spire. At the top of the narrow stairs, Eldin of Myr slipped on the blood-slick stonework – blood red as that of any beast with but little of the true indigo, for the defenders of Serranos had sold their lives dearly – sprawling on the roof as another of the Nighthand’s stunted oncemen, round-faced and lop-eared, lunged from the shadows of the stairs.
It would have been the end for the champion of Myr, had not the creature been struck down in the act of raising its blade by a bolt from Lady Qar’s clockbow, passing through the space where he had stood but moment’s before. “Make haste!”, she called to him. “The Eidolon casts off even now!”
Sigh. This again? It was original when Filír Estenv, inspired by bioarchaeological work then ongoing at the Lunar Library, first portrayed the shadowy minions of the evil overlord as short, ruddy, misshapen, beast-blooded creatures twisted by the Dark out of folk who resembled actual people in Princes of the Spire, but that was over a century ago. Now, however, portraying “oncemen” using elements of the reconstructed form of Pseudoeldrae archaea admixed with goblin myths – if not the entire notion of moral corruption as biological corruption – is a cliché so hackneyed that more original antagonists are growing on it.
We suggest that Citizen Amanté find some.
Our Rating: 4/12 (Workmanlike if clichéd pulp fiction; good enough to pass slow time, but nothing too exciting or innovative here.)
– the Ethring Review of Books