2 out of 4 stars
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Prishum’s Revenge: The Battle for the Underground City is Paul Duncan’s first novel in a dark fantasy series. It could be read as a standalone book because the major conflicts are resolved by the end of the last chapter. However, it also throws in new characters and challenges whose role and functions will clearly be revealed in the next books of the series. Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy books, the writer is highly ambitious in his plans, hence the preliminary map of the imaginary realms and the obvious careful planning and elaboration of every scene in the novel.
A hero as improbable as the hobbit in Tolkien’s novel by the same title, Prishum belongs to the clan of Lagomorphosis Gamma or Rabbit-Folk, as the local humans call them. When he is only 9 years old, his peaceful life at his parents’ farm near the Mangrave Forest and the human village of Galloway is dramatically disturbed by the invasion of the Legions of Marduk. During one of their raids, Prishum witnesses the violent death of his parents and swears he will have no rest until he gets his revenge on Remus and Romulus, the two blood brothers leading the legions’ raids and plundering of the Euratwin continent.
The protagonist’s adventures are not only a quest for justice, but also a journey of initiation and self-discovery. With unusual features for a Lago, Prishum has often wondered if he is not a half-breed between a rabbit and a human. He will eventually find out the truth about his ancestry and many more things about himself and his destiny. During his 15 years of exile to Nipponesia, he becomes a swordsmith’s apprentice and trains to learn the killing skills of the Ninja warriors. Married to the beautiful Lago woman Trissa, Prishum returns to his homeland to fulfill the legend of the moon rabbit.
What I liked about this novel is perhaps that most of the time I could not guess what was going to happen next. Prishum travels a lot from Euratwin to Nipponesia and then to the underground city of Necropolis Requiem or to Seminole, the city of the Lago killers. In a third-person narration focusing on the protagonist, the readers have the chance to explore new lands and to get to know new customs and traditions together with the main character. All those who love dark fantasy books will not be disappointed if they choose to read Paul Duncan’s novel. Rest assured the book includes the usual constellation of more or less familiar mythological creatures from dark elves, werewolves and vampires to human Abaddonists, a hideous creature called a draugr and Tiamat, the queen of all evil dragons. There is even the promise of a gorgon in the next book of the series. Epic battles such as the siege of the underground city by the Legions of Marduk are on the list too.
Unfortunately, I also had the feeling that sometimes too much is simply too much. Paul Duncan mixes up Arthurian legends, Greek mythology and Roman history with Celtic tales and Japanese culture in a mind-blowing amalgam which at times made me quite dizzy and confused. With such big plans in mind, I think the writer should have given more attention to details and should have remained faithful to the epic dimension of the text from the beginning to the end. When the protagonist is a rabbit there is always a thin line between the heroic and the ridiculous. For example, although Prishum is married, he gets involved with both Sheba, a tiger-woman he meets on a ship of pirates, and Lydia, a vampire of the underground city. I know that rabbits are famous for their prolific nature, but I still found everything a bit far-fetched. For those readers who are not comfortable with scenes of verbal and physical aggression or outright gore, this novel may not be exactly the best choice.
I am rating Prishum’s Revenge 2 out of 4 stars. I am taking away one star for the often exaggerated mash-up and the occasional explicit scenes of abuse or violence. I also counted around 20 editing errors, so this is the other reason I am detracting one more star from my rating. There were only some minor punctuation mistakes and some missing letters and prepositions. Even if I do not think they would spoil the pleasure of reading, they should be fixed with another round of proofreading and editing.
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