When the sorcerer Lothanal is caught studying demonology he is banished by the Eldric. Stripped of both resources and the ability to work magic, his only option is to enter into a pact with the demons. To meet a price measured in thousands of souls, he resolves to reignite war between the peoples of the north and south.
Both the main plot arc and subsidiary character arcs are engaging and consistent. A similar level of effort is clear in the creation of the background, which provides the monsters and magical powers a reader expects of high fantasy, without seeming derivative.
Burrows displays particular skill in large-scale combat, managing to successfully show the power of magic without rendering common soldiers an irrelevance. He also balances portrayal of the confusion the characters feel when immersed in a battle with the reader’s desire for a clear overview of events.
His system of magic is also well realised, providing a sound reason demonic magic is stronger than permitted magics, without falling into simplistic right-vs-wrong dualisms.
However, the writing does let the story down in places. Although the book is easy to read, there are occasionally issues with descriptions and word choice which reduce immersion; this is especially noticeable in a few of the faster-paced scenes.
There are also a few scenes toward the end which are clearly set up for a series rather than parts of the existing narrative; this failure to fully integrate events could leave the reader feeling slightly let down.
Burrow’s characters are – for the most part – very believable, with even supporting characters displaying a plausible range of personality traits. Unlike some high fantasy novels, the romance does not feel tacked on merely so there is romance, and the heroes do not flawlessly put aside all their disagreements and prejudices because there is a greater threat.
I enjoyed this book for its ideas. I recommend it to readers looking for a quick fix of high fantasy.