Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Dark Thorn by Shawn Speakman

What breaks a man, which choices a man makes can ultimately lead him down the opposite path of what he initially wanted, what atrocities are a man capable of doing given the conviction he is doing the work of good, the work of God? There are some very fascinating issues Shawn Speakman delves into with his story, The Dark Thorn.

This urban fantasy brings the reader into the wonderful world the Arthurian era with Knights Templar, powerful fey, secret tools and weapons of magic. It also gives us a glimpse into the history of the Catholic Church and its war on paganism.

The protagonist, Richard McAllister, is a broken man living on the streets of Seattle. Still, he is much more than a homeless miserable shell of a man; he is a Knight of Yn Saith charged with guarding the Seattle Portal into Annwn, a world unknown to most. A world the fay of the Arthurian Britain escaped into when the Roman Church and its Knights Templar hunted down anything and everything connected with Pagan belief. There are several portals around the world. With the help of a mysterious wizard, Merle, the knights work both for and against the Church in order to keep the two worlds separate.

The Dark Thorn tells a thrilling tale of overcoming personal hardship while fighting to prevent events of catastrophic scale destroying not only one, but two worlds. It is a tale religious extremism, greed and hunger for power, but also of perseverance, personal growth and accepting responsibility even at a high personal loss. There are turns and twists that will take you completely by surprise and keep you wanting ever more.
Shawn Speakman's words create visual fodder for your imagination. He has created a universe of his own that I want very much to see more of. His characters are believable with both unforgivable flaws and honorable bravery. His writing style is very much his own, but some of it, like his style of description, reminds me of the early works of Terry Brooks. The way he mixes the life of modern day world and the secret world of Fay and its Seelie Court reminds me of the universe of Jim Butcher and the main protagonist's self loathing and bitterness reminds me of Donaldson's Thomas Covenant.

I highly recommend this book and I believe it'll leave you like me; wanting more.

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