The Darkest Dusk
Following on from D.W. Ross’ debut novel Cold From The North, The Darkest Dusk is the next instalment of the adventures of Ogulf Harlsbane and his allies as they attempt to thwart the advances of malevolent forces trying to take over the realm of Gelenea.
Battle lines are drawn all over the continent as the march of The Order of Maledict continues, Ogulf and his companions must summon magical weapons which have the potential to even the odds, and all the while powerful new players emerge among the fray, bringing with them vast armies and new abilities as the struggle for control intensifies.
With the fate of the world in the balance – can the march of the Onyxborn be stopped?
I was sent a digital copy of The Darkest Dusk by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you D.W. Ross!
Book two of The Onyxborn Chronicles, The Darkest Dusk is the sequel to the norse fantasy Cold From the North and starts pretty much exactly where its predecessor left off. An epic tale of good versus evil, our hero Ogulf and his mage friend Melcun remain in Esselonia, ready to aid the princess Feda Essel, having given her an extra special axe, one that will make her one of two Lightwielders, following a magical ritual, along with her betrothed, Vellan. Her country is at the end of a civil war and still reeling, but they are headed towards a much more terrifying battle:
“Light versus dark in a battle to the last man. That man gets the spoils, the power and the glory. Or the woman, I suppose, if the gods have it that way.”
Further north, the Shingally are being advanced upon by King Nadreth of Visser and his evil warriors, the Order of Maledict, aided by the Onyxborn, who is a young girl called Nevea. Her powers have become much stronger than when he first discovered her in Cold From the North and she now controls a fearsome vessel for the power of Cormag and Loken, an enormous, weapon-wielding monster:
“You are the Onyxborn. This black that courses through your veins is proof of your power. It is Loken and Cormag coursing through you and giving you the strength to act in their name. You do not feed off of the Peaks the way others do, for you have been blessed with their touch”
In addition to Nevea, Nadreth also has a High Priest of Visser on his side, named Baliq, and the fearsome Grim Knight of renown, Steryn, who is determined for vengeance and wants Feda’s head. The Urthdark family, traitors to Feda Essel’s cause, soon join his campaign as well. He also has a fearsome army of thousands of soldiers fighting on his side. As if all of that is not enough, Nadreth has a powerful weapon which gives him the strength of seven spirits when he wields it, making him feel indestructible:
“…her with her Vessel plus the trapped spirits of great warriors in his weapon, their skills now belonged to him.”
There are many new characters introduced in this sequel. Now we are in the kingdom of Esselonia, we get to know the noblemen and women of that court. We also see a lot more of King Nadreth and his minions than previously. I almost felt like our heroes from book one were slightly neglected, Ogulf, Rowden and Melcun were no longer centre stage until much later in the book although still playing their part in the story. (Ogulf and Melcun, anyway, Rowden had a very small part in this instalment).
The scene setting in this book illustrates the author’s unquestionable skill at descriptive prose:
“The rain poured down, teeming relentlessly and soaking everything and everyone through. Tiny streams of water ran down the cobbled streets of Delfmarc, weaving their way towards the drains of the Causeway, which were now close to overflowing, gurgling as the water swished just under the metal grates, ready to spill over and flood the wide expanse of road.”
Ross gives us a fantastic attention to detail in his world building, whether depicting the appearance of the princess’s carriage, the horses drawing it, the uniforms worn by her soldiers, or buildings:
“there were no windows at all on the building in front of him; the spaces that looked like they should be paned were instead filled with brutally designed metal coverings with no hinges instead. There was a door below them, one that looked almost as well made as Hayter’s Gate. The dark oak with its black metal holdings was foreboding to say the least, a fair fight for any battering ram in the realm. Four steps led up to the soaking wet entryway.”
The battle scenes are well-choreographed and exciting and just the right amount of tension is used in the run up to them.
I would have like to see more of Melcun developing his magic and using what he learned but there are quite a few more magic users introduced in this book than in the previous one and we see them all wielding their skills in battle as well. Melcun has been studying hard and hardly sleeping:
“His hair was lank, draped just above his eyebrows, and wet with perspiration, it looked blacker than ever. Dark rings circled his weary eyes.”
The finale of the book is a highly exciting battle on a beach, filled with palpable tension, which had me on the edge of my seat for its duration! Ogulf is faced with an impossible choice – should he protect the Lightwielders who are the only hope that good might prevail in Gelenea, or help his best friend – what will he decide?
What follows is a perfect cliffhanger at the end of the book and I cannot wait to read what happens next! I would not hesitate to recommend this book to all lovers of epic fantasy.
About the Author
D.W. Ross is an author who took the boredom of lockdown 2020 to another level by deciding to write a book despite having no experience in doing anything of the sort before – to say he never thought he would get this far is an understatement. One book has become a series, and now there is no stopping his creative mind as he plots books daily that he will absolutely never get to writing. Cold From The North was his first novel, with follow up The Darkest Dusk which came out in 2021 with the closing novel of the Onyxborn Chronicles coming in early 2022. When not writing, he can be found watching pro wrestling, reading fantasy, dystopian and thriller novels, gaming, lifting weights and eating chicken wings. D.W. lives in Scotland with his wife.