*Paste Magazine Best New Fantasy*
"Mr. Maberry’s first venture into Sword and Sorcery fiction employs powerful imagery to tell a classic tale of revenge and blood which fans of Howard, Moore and Wagner will relish! As his own story grows deeper and more complex, Kagen of Argentium discovers the bizarre answers to more than one mystery. He fights with magnificent skill and fury to restore an empire, unearth the secrets of unimaginably ancient peoples and discover the horrifying truth behind his family’s betrayal. Maberry gradually expands his story until it flows beyond the borders of his chosen genre to create something rich and original. If you hunger for more George Martin, this novel will thoroughly satisfy you. And if you love Lovecraft, you’re in for something very special!" —Michael Moorcock, World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award–winner
“Jonathan Maberry’s sojourn into fantasy with Kagen the Damned is a bawdy, brutal, swashbuckling start to a magnificent epic in the making. It’s sword & sorcery the way I like it: violent, bloody, but with beautiful awe-inspiring moments of wonder. So buckle on your own sword and join Kagen on this grand adventure. You won’t be disappointed.” —James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestseller of The Last Odyssey
“Jonathan Maberry is definitely channeling Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and L. Sprague De Camp—this is a great novel with sharp swords, elder gods, mythical cities, and heroes who will become legends.” —Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Dune: House Atreides and Spine of the Dragon.
"Kagen the Damned is the best sword and sorcery book I have read in the last ten years. Fans of Joe Abercrombie, Pat Rothfuss, Mark Lawrence, and Robert E. Howard are going to love this." —Weston Ochse, author of Seal Team 666
"Kagen the Damned is a gloriously nuanced, exceptionally brutal epic fantasy crossed with cosmic horror that manages to mine new material out of a very familiar space. It's thoughtful, beautiful, awful, fresh, and very, very welcome." —Seanan McGuire, author of When Sorrows Come
“This book is violently honest and honestly violent about the horrors of war. Unrelenting action that plunges the reader into the world. The ending is satisfying, but readers will still want more of Kagen. Kagen combines the characters of Conan and Elric into a believable melancholy hero.”
— Robin Hobb, New York Times Bestselling author
"If epic battles, intrigue, quests, heroes & villains, history written by the victorious vs the defeated ones’ version, and unanswerable questions pique your interest you won’t want to sleep on this one." — Aimeereads.com
"...fantasy readers will be spellbound by the intricate worldbuilding and the delightful cast. This is a promising start." —Publishers Weekly
"A vibrant, textured, and exciting admixture of subgenres that do not often play together." —Kirkus, starred
"A delightfully bizarre cast of characters populates this dark fantasy." —Paste Magazine
"Set in a creative and imaginative world of old gods and entities from beyond the stars, Kagen the Damned is a novel of tragedy, vengeance and redemption...Maberry lays the foundation for an incredible new series." —Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
In the first of a series, epic fantasy blends with eldritch horror and folklore as a man seeks vengeance for the destruction of an empire.
Kagen Vale, sworn protector of the young heirs of the Silver Empress, awakens from a night of debauchery to discover himself naked and weaponless as the forces of the long-defeated Hakkians slaughter the royal family and conquer the Silver Empire in the course of a single night. Tormented by his failure to save his charges and by a vision of his nation’s gods literally turning their backs on him, the apparently damned man wanders the countryside in a drunken and murderous haze while nursing vengeance against the usurping Witch-king, a sorcerer and disciple of Hastur, the sinister Shepherd God. Both the Witch-king and a desperate rebellious cabal are seeking Kagen, the former to capture and humiliate him, the latter because they believe Kagen is key to defeating the Witch-king, whose ambitions threaten the whole world. Meanwhile, having lost the protection of their destroyed empire’s faith, two nuns seek the help of other, older gods. Lovecraft-ian pastiche remains a popular, some might say overused, subgenre, but it’s usually presented in a more contemporary or recent historical setting rather than a high fantasy milieu as it is here. Maberry also blends in the mythology of Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow as well as references to Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalott” and Keats’ “La Belle Dame sans Merci.” While it’s difficult to garner any sympathy for the Witch-king and the gruesome god he serves, the author offers a shades-of-gray approach to most of the story, suggesting that not all the worshippers of the other Great Old Ones are evil, that the Hakkians had at least some justification for rising up against the Silver Empire, and that the Silver Empire’s seemingly gentle Garden faith had some fairly ruthless underpinnings. Various characters warn Kagen and the reader that things are not always as they appear, and one of the stunning revelations at the end should probably be obvious, but that foreknowledge doesn’t prevent the novel’s thrilling denouement from striking like a hammer blow.
A vibrant, textured, and exciting admixture of subgenres that do not often play together.