Geas by Jonathan R Webb

8/10 A superb first effort, more than that, it is in fact highly commendable and re-readable.

In a backwater province of the Apollonian Empire, a lowly Brother-Priest has a vision. Leaving a garbled message that something malign has escaped back into the world, he goes missing. But why did he not report this to the proper authorities? Why did he steal treasures from the temple mausoleum before leaving? And what of the message he left behind and the heretical theories it divulged?

Plagued by visions of his past, a faithless Inquisitor uncovers the Brother-Priest's disappearance. Intent on rekindling his faith or revealing the Brother-Priest to be a fraud, the Inquisitor gives chase. If he succeeds then perhaps Spiritual Harmony - the enforcement organisation that oversees the various state religions - will again look favourably upon him.

But another is also interested in the fate of the Brother-Priest - a Thaum-Agent awakens and stirs the Guild into action.

A collision course is set.

When I first started to read Geas I have to be honest and admit that I struggled to get into the story. Perhaps it was me, perhaps not, but it did take me a long time, some 60-70 pages before “I just had to read it”.

The whole story revolves around an ancient geas, a kind of magically bound agreement that when broken, will have dire consequences. It is important in this story to realise that the geas in question is bound between men and demons. With that in mind you can sit and let the world in which the story is told unfold around you. The author is a man for detail, sometimes too much, sometimes he is prone to over state things but I will forgive Mr Webb any writing faux pas and will instead salute the man for crafting a believable world for his demons and guilds and men of magic to pursue one another through.

Jarda, the main protagonist, is not afraid to break the rules of the guild to which he has sworn unwavering servitude. Late in the story however, Jarda discovers that he is in fact a part of something far greater than just the guild. Together with an entourage of aruks (warriors) and spearmen he sets about leading a monk who carries within him an angel, on quest to the Granite City. This angel has been sent by the Young Gods to seek out and destroy the risen Nargreeth, a most foul demon indeed.

Embroiled with twists turns and betrayals the story is well woven and interspersed with plenty of action and a smattering of strong language, which I must say, is never misused. Jonathan Webb has clearly put a great deal of effort into his novel which I would rate as a superb first effort, more than that, it is in fact highly commendable and re-readable.

Just to check if it was myself or the story that was hard going at the start I have read the opening chapters again. My conclusion is that like many a high fantasy there is much to explain about the author’s vision of this dark land that must wait until at least the first blood has been spilt.

So, in conclusion I would give Geas a solid 8 / 10, I have read a lot worse by more accomplished authors who have absolutely no excuses.

“Bland looked up, his face contorted in pain. “I am blessed. My Angel will mend my body,” he gasped, and then took hold of the arrow and pulled it, his face contorting into a hideous self-righteous grimace.”

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