ENTROMANCY: Book One of the Nightpath Trilogy
by M.S. Farzan
2076 is not a good year to be a special agent. A quarter of the world's power runs on ceridium, a newly discovered element that has had the unintended consequence of spawning a new race of people, and several forms of magic that were once thought to have been forgotten. Eskander Aradowsi is an agent of NIGHT, a paramilitary force created to contain and control this new perceived threat, but he soon learns that not all within his organization is as it seems. A botched mission turns out to be the least of his troubles, when he unearths a plot that threatens the uneasy truce between the aurics and humans of San Francisco, and centers on a form of magic that toys with the very fabric of the universe: Entromancy.
“How many out there?” a voice buzzed through my earpiece.
I watched the city below carefully, standing stock still as the evening breeze whipped my coat behind me. The bright neon lights formed an iridescent halo through the layer of fog that had begun to coalesce, but I could still pinpoint a handful of signal markers within the haze. The ancient radio tower loomed behind me forlornly like a ruddy tuning fork sticking out of a concrete mound.
I tapped a button on my digitab, magnifying a selected portion of the cityscape through my lenses. “Three,” I replied. “Two on Columbus-Farrow and one downtown.”
I grimaced at the racism, but said nothing. Marking the three waypoints on my digitab’s city map, I hurried back to the cruiser bike.
“HQ wants you to prioritize the downtown storefront,” the voice continued. “Intel says that it’s set to go nova first, and there’s no telling what these gutter trash will do when we expose them.”
I nodded to myself as I mounted the cruiser, passing a gloved hand over the vehicle’s blinking security console. Its engine instantly came to life, cold blue light spilling out of the bike’s casing.
“Oh and, Nightpath,” my earpiece buzzed. “Bring me a couple of knife-ears as souvenirs, will you?”
I tensed on the bike, disgusted by the snickering I could hear in the background.
“That’s enough, Striker,” I said curtly.
The laughter stopped abruptly. “Just get it done,” the voice said, and the earpiece clicked.
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ENTROMANCY has one of the coolest speculative fiction worlds I’ve encountered in a while. The mix of magic and technology is an amazing blend that results in all kind of badassery from the characters. Backdropped against a sort of dystopian/Philip Marlow-ian cityscape, it felt like an epic D&D slipstream universe, complete with gnomes. I would have gladly taken the chance to explore this place in more depth. That is, if I could be safe from said badassery. If not, I would have created a stealth archer of sorts to do the exploring for me.
I would also not want to be in Eskander Arandowsi’s (the protagonist) situation. Every time he turns around, someone’s shooting at him or blowing something near him up. ENTROMANCY does not fail to deliver in the action department. That said, I sometimes felt a bit bogged down in the action, but I was always able to keep track of who was shooting at whom.
All in all, ENTROMANCY isn’t my usual reading stomping grounds, but I enjoyed it, nonetheless. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to get lost in an awesome world and/or anyone who grew up on table-top role-playing games. The group dynamic among the main characters brought me fondly back to my days of dice rolling, banter, and grid-map combat. 3 stars on Goodreads
M. S. Farzan was born in London, UK and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has a B.A. in Integrative Biology, M.A. in Religious Leadership for Social Change, and Ph.D. in Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions. He has written and worked for high-profile video game companies and editorial websites such as Electronic Arts, Perfect World Entertainment, and MMORPG.com, and has trained in and taught Japanese martial arts for over ten years. He also enjoys soccer, baseball, and games of all kinds.
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