From the author, “Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.
Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight-year-old boy to render the judgment of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.
Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from storybooks read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper’s war. “
- Kindle Edition
- 274 pages
- Expected publication: January 29th, 2019 by Rob J. Hayes
- Original Title Never Die
- Edition Language English
Mark Lawrence, the author of the grimdark series “Broken Empire,” said this of Rob Hayes’s writing ability, “(he) is one of self-publishing rising stars,” and he is unquestionably right. This story is the epitome of fantasy; it pits dark against light, has epic fighting scenes, heroes that are not quite perfect, and a subtle undercurrent of rye humor. Everything that makes a fun fantasy story.
“She whispered a prayer for those she slain, knowing full well the stars were deaf, and those men didn’t deserve it anyway.”Never Die by Rob Hayes
“Never Die” is centered around Ein. A boy who is not quite right and has been sent on a quest from God, a death God and Ein’s mission to succeed the mysterious and powerful Emperor of Ten Kings must fall. Also, to succeed in his quest Ein must walk barefoot across the cities, mountains, and rivers of the countryside and never don footwear. He must also select champions from myth and legend to fight the Emporer for him, and these champions must die first so that their souls are tethered to Ein.
The champions are where Hayes really excelled in his story writing. Often when reading fantasy characters, an author tends to muddle together different character tropes to be some kind of quasi trope hybrid and usually they are similar from story to story. That isn’t the case here. First of the champions is Itami Cho, AKA Whispering Blade the fastest and quietest warrior in the kingdoms. A spoken word from her can shatter walls and tear apart bodies. Secondly, Emerald Wind is a bandit who is a real self-centered bastard of the story. He is able to blink in and out of existence moving from place to place often popping behind enemies to pierce them through their back. I find that his unabashedly disreputable character is refreshing and adds an excellent counter-balance to Itami Cho because not all heroes are good people. Thirdly we have Iron Gut Chen. He has an impenetrable skin and an impenetrable ego. He needs to consume massive amounts of wine to be happy and reminds me of a jolly sumo wrestler. Lastly, Bingwei Ma rounds out Ein’s literal dream team. Bingwei is the greatest living master of wushu ever to live. He uses no weapons and has never lost a fight.
As you can see, this is a team of heroes not cut from the traditional cloth. Each also has a weakness: one is good but tortured in the case of Ikami, One is gregarious but full of himself in the case of Chen, and you have one that is chaotic with a streak of goodness, buried deeply in Emerald wind. Bingwei Ma does not know how to lose and has never left his valley, his issue is gullibility. During the journey of the story, there is the day to day peril of existing. Not enough food to eat or angry villagers punctuated with bouts of violence and battles. This keeps the frenetic pace of the story plausible and comfortable. Hayes knows as a writer how vital pacing is, that the slow moments in a story are just as important as the wild crazy ones. As these heroes move towards their overall goal of slaying the Emporer, I found myself cheering for this band of miscreants and heroes. Will they succeed in their quest? Will they tear themselves apart first. Can Ein keep the band together through the threat of not giving them a full life again? The questions are answered beautifully in the denouement of the novel. It takes the reader to places that I had no idea where coming. I absolutely loved and appreciated the ending.
I am new to the worlds of Rob Hayes and his wonderful fantasy novels. But I am sure as hell going to stay around and make myself comfortable. If his other books are one-tenth as good as this one is, I am in for a treat. Come for the story of “Never Die” but stay for the heroes.
eARC provided by the author in exchange for my honest review.
Quotes are taken from eARC and may be different upon publication.
About the Author
Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as he was old enough he started playing with swords… OK, wooden sticks.
At the age of fourteen he started writing but, like most fourteen-year-old boys, everything had to be either a vampire, a werewolf, or have superpowers. Thankfully, like most fourteen-year-old boys, he eventually grew up… a bit.
After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey, Rob ran away to live on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.
When he’s not madly scribbling his next epic, Rob has a variety of hobbies that, unsurprisingly, are fantasy themed. He regularly plays card games based on the A Game of Thrones and the Netrunner universes and attends tournaments throughout the UK. Rob also enjoys Airsofting: the act of running around a forest with fake guns shooting (being shot by) his friends.