The Deathless by Peter Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Still enjoying the outdoors more than the indoors. :)
Honestly, it's a subtle and understated fantasy world that speaks loudest when it whispers. It's hard to remember that all these ancient families with their politics and internal squabbles are actually crystal-armor-donning rebirth-type immortal warriors who fly and the Wild below is full of demons.
When we're in the thick of it, the book is quite fun. And why am I re-reading this? Because I'm about to dive into books two and three. :)
I've become a pretty big fan of Peter Newman since the Vagrant books. They were quirky, hardcore horror, fantasy, and even SF bundled as one huge treat.
The Deathless breaks that mold by wrapping us deep inside a world of a dark magical forest with strange creatures and castles rather than ravening armies.
What makes this special? Immortality isn't that special, but these are lords and ladies of immortals breeding their line to take over their children's bodies by way of a special bloodletting ceremony... and the realm's leaders are... slipping. Going a little mad. Their one task is to protect the castle and the people from the monsters in the wild.
But what is the real difference between the monsters in the wild and the immortal men and women? That's the big question I keep asking. In the meantime, we have an adventure with flying crystal plate armor, very interesting beasties that aren't behaving quite as monstrously as they ought, and a quirky, smart old woman getting herself involved in bigger events. A large part of the tale centers on a newborn on the run with his mother and faithful servant, protecting him as the literal vassal for an immortal.
I think I had more fun with the big questions and the wild world than with any of the indoors bits with the immortals, but overall I had no complaints about this fantasy. It still has its cool quirks like Newman's other writings, but it is also slightly more mainstream than them.
Still enjoyable, even if I didn't squee this time. :)
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