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When the Heavens Fall: The Chronicles of the Exile #1    by Marc Turner order for
When the Heavens Fall
by Marc Turner
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Marc Turner's When the Heavens Fall, the first episode The Chronicles of the Exile, is a very dark fantasy epic with a strong vein of horror running through it. It can also be rather confusing as it constantly switches between several very different casts of characters, none of whom are developed enough to really grab a reader's interest. Nevertheless, I kept going and found the story moved along fast with constant gory violence.

Like many fantasies, this one involves the quest for an uber powerful artifact, in this case the Book of Lost Souls, which was stolen by a renegade mage. Everyone (including Shroud, Lord of the Dead) is after it and its current possessor wants to understand how to use it. The gods are at war over it and everyone else (including humans with almost godlike powers) is embroiled in the conflict.

So, who are all these players? There's Luker, once a Guardian, who is convinced to go after the Book (on the orders of the Emperor) because he is hoping to locate and save his old master, Kanon, who disappeared after being sent on the same mission. Skilled assassin Jenna has Luker's back and possibly his heart.

Next we meet lazy Romany, high priestess of the Spider goddess. The latter sends her on a mission to manipulate Mayot Mencada (the mage who currently holds the Book), in order to counter Shroud. Powerful Parolla takes incredible risks, seeking a way to enter the underworld, in order to avenge herself on Shroud - why? She befriends a ghost, Tumbal, who is somewhat of a philosopher, and also makes a demonic alliance.

Then there is Prince Ebon. Spirits of Vamilians (a once powerful race) plague him, constant voices in his head, and he must keep this hidden or he will never win the crown - and no-one else is competent to do the job. Ebon is helped by a very talented mage, Mottle, who thinks very highly of himself and is rather engaging.

These are the main characters but there are many others to keep track of. They all fight their way (through hordes of warriors, zombies and sorcerers) towards the final battle for the Book. Many (including gods) die before the end. If you enjoy fantasy/horror with a huge cast of characters and a complex plot, then you'll enjoy this adventure more than I did.

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