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Kagen the Damned    by Jonathan Maberry order for
Kagen the Damned
by Jonathan Maberry
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jonathan Maberry's Kagen the Damned opens a new fantasy series, whose lead is a tortured soul seeking revenge, having given up on redemption. Kagen, son of the legendary Poison Rose, is captain of the palace guard, and protector of the royal children. He has failed in his duty. He was drugged and woke in Argentium to sounds of battle as all the Imperial family were slaughtered.

While Kagen raced to find his parents, brothers, and the royal children, fifteen-year old orphaned Ryssa was guided by her distant cousin Miri (a nun) out of the city. Meanwhile, Kagen saw his mother fall and killed an unkillable razor-knight. As all this develops, so does an alliance of the powerful in many kingdoms.

Now the Witch-king of Hakkia rules the Silver Empire that had lasted for a millennium and had outlawed magic. At his side is the Lady Kestral, a High Priestess skilled in anthropomancy and other magics. Everywhere, magic is returning - a vampire rising, a child communicating with animals, an abused wife shape-changing and fleeing, and much more.

Kagen starts by drinking himself into oblivion, then fights back. The alliance against the Witch King seeks his help. It's prophesied that he will be brought in chains before the villain at his coronation, and that does happen after many more adventures - how can he survive it? Worse, how can he survive learning the Witch King's real identity?

As this complex and intriguing episode ends, the alliance wins a battle, but not the war. I look forward to more.

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