Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Tim Lebbon
Published by Bantam Spectra
Tim Lebbon returns to the world he created in his Dusk and Dawn novels, Noreela, for his latest venture into the darkest of fantasies. This time the adventure is set countless years before the aforementioned books and in all honesty seemed that much better for it.
In the early days of Noreela we meet Nomi and Ramus, two adventurers who have tasked themselves with discovering all their world has to offer. They’re Voyagers, an actual class of citizen who set out and explore where no one has ventured before for the sheer sake of knowledge. Nomi has become rich on her travels, whereas Ramus is far more scholarly and wise, choosing to settle for reading and writing about the places he’s been.
Nomi meets a man named Ten, who claims to have been to the Great Divide, a huge rock face located at the very southern tip of Noreela, and returned with parchments that indicate something truly amazing that may lie at the top of the Divide; a Sleeping God. The stuff of myths and legends, Sleeping Gods were said to be the first race to exist in Noreela, choosing to go underground when humanity evolved and allow them to grow on their own. But the parchments Ten possess indicates that there may be a Sleeping God imprisoned on top of the Great Divide, a place most believe doesn’t have a top, and Ramus immediately becomes obsessed with finding it.
Together with a band of mercenaries hired to protect them from the wilds of unexplored Noreela, they set out for the Great Divide. Along the way some pretty horrible truths are brought to light about something Nomi did to Ramus which may have doomed him, and the groups separate; Ramus setting off with a lone warrior, the rest staying with Nomi.
This is when Fallen really picks up and gets moving, as the two groups race to reach the Great Divide, and scale it’s sheer cliff face, before the other. Along the way Ramus begins to decipher more and more of the parchment he takes with him and begins to truly understand what they may be heading towards; a God gone mad and purposefully imprisoned to prevent it from wreaking havoc on the land. What they find when they do reach the top is far more horrible, however.
With Fallen Lebbon really hits his stride with a true adventure story; as a reader you can’t help put be drawn into the trials and tribulations of these characters, and share their sense of excitement of discovering that which on human has ever seen before. The characters are fully realized in a way that you can’t help but care what happens to them, despite the betrayals that exist between them and their personal struggles.
Don’t worry, I know this is a horror site and there hasn’t been much horror mentioned yet. In truth there’s not a lot of it until the group gets to the great divide, most of their ride is uneventful aside from passing the results of a band of marauders here and there, but when they hit the cliff face they encounter some pretty horrific stuff. Giant monsters that live in side the Divide, which tear more than one of their party part. The denizens that exist on the top of the Great Divide aren’t very welcoming, either, and this is when the book gets really scary.
As always Lebbon does a fantastic job of bringing this world to life and really the amount of fantasy vs. horror isn’t the point; Lebbon’s just a really good storyteller and because of that can make you feel whatever is necessary for the moment to move the story along. Doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of fantasy or horror or adventure; all you need to enjoy Fallen is a love for a good story.
4 out of 5
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