Reviewed by Nikyta
Title: Summoner’s Dirge
Author: Evelyn Shepherd
Series: The Last Canticle #1
Heroes: Balin & Damir
Genre: M/M Fantasy
Length: 317 pages
Publisher: Loose Id
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Available at: Loose Id, Amazon, All Romance eBooks & Barnes and Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads & Booklikes
Blurb: Because of the strange tattoos that decorate his body, Damir Rosen has lived a secluded, quiet life on his farm outside of Canaan. But the peace and calm of his daily life is shaken when he finds a broken and half-dead man in his field. Taking a grave risk, Damir heals Balin and discovers a passion he never thought possible in the exotic stranger from another land.
On a mission to kill the king of Pheor when his airship crashes in the mountains, Balin grieves that he’ll die before he ever finishes the job. An unexpected angel—who glows with the strength of the stars—saves him, though, and now Balin must decide whether remain with the sensual man who brought him back from death or finish the job that could stop a war.
Tragedy strikes, forcing Balin and Damir onto the run. With the aid of a group of sky pirates, they begin a journey, one Damir only dreamed of ever taking. If Damir can overcome his grief, and learn to trust Balin, they may just be able to uncover the truth behind Damir’s healing powers, save the world, and each other in the process.
As the assassin known as Shadowwalker, Balin is tasked with one more job before he can be free but before he can make it to his destination, he crash lands in a deadly forest that ultimately leads him to an isolated farm where he meets Damir. Damir keeps him and his sister distant from everyone for fear of what will happen if anyone knew about his special abilities. When Balin shows up half dead, he risks everything to save the injured man and when Balin stays on the farm instead of leaving, he even risks his own heart. Unfortunately, fate has other plans for Damir and Balin when Damir’s abilities are discovered that not only leaves Damir devastated but consumed with revenge. Damir will stop at nothing to seek retribution for his loss but what leads him and Balin to leave the country brings them in contact with a band of pirates that also takes them on one adventure after another where their help is needed. But when it comes down to it, will Damir pursue his revenge or will he fight to save all of humankind instead?
It’s hard to explain this story because it has so much depth to it. There’s so many layers to the world and once you think you finally understand it, a twist is thrown it that makes you go “Whoa! Where the hell did that come from?!” It happened to me a few times and left me eager to read more and figure out how it all played together and how it would finish. Readers should be warned that this IS the start of a new series, an epic journey where bloodshed will be everywhere. As of right now, this story contains a lot of action once Damir and Balin discovered what Damir’s power extends to. They fight to be free of those trying to take Damir, they fight to save other people and they fight to find something that is lost.
There are a lot of characters that have a great deal of characterization to them. Damir and Balin are the main couple but there are others (the pirates) that make the story light-hearted at times and funny at others. As a couple, Damir and Balin are sweet together and one another’s rock. Damir is a humble farmer who has a lot of wisdom and belief in his God but that belief is tested. Balin is more jaded and bitter but Damir brings out parts of Balin he thought long dead. When Damir grieves, he’s upset with Balin but he can’t stand to lose him either so there’s a bit of push and pull between them. What that shows, though, is how Balin won’t leave Damir at the slightest trouble and they come out of that with a stronger relationship than before. I loved that. I loved that their feelings were tested and if anything, I really wished we could have seen more of the struggle between them, their way of working through their conflict (outside of sex) and how they ultimately get to the point where they can trust one another again.
My biggest issue with this novel was that I felt like certain parts of the plot were skipped or glossed over. For instance, I would have liked to see more of Damir learning about his abilities, seeing the reception these characters received when they returned from certain journeys, the way Damir and Balin worked through Damir’s distrust and even the morning after certain events took place. Since these scenes were missing, I didn’t feel the connection between one event happening and the next. Yet, there were scenes in the story that felt unnecessary, such as two or three sex scenes that didn’t bring anything to the overall plot (and push me passed my ‘way too my sex’ threshold) and a few scattered situations in the beginning that didn’t bring anything to the story such as a brawl with a drunken gambler. At the same time, because of this, it felt like the book was jumpy especially since the writing felt stilted in a few spots. Not to mention, the story dragged for the first quarter or so of the book. The first chapter has a lot of foreign words to identify the world but it was so clustered together that it turned confusing and over the course of the book, I still kept wondering what certain words meant.
In the end, though, I still enjoyed this one. It’s filled with a unique world where mythical creatures may be the salvation for the humans who are on the brink of war. About half way through, it turns adventurous and deals heavily in suspense with enough action to keep you reading. The romance between Damir and Balin is sweet but goes through rough patches that give legitimacy to their love. It’s a good start to a new series and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen next.
Overall Impression: I liked it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*