Series: Adjacent Monsters
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Psychological Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Publisher: LukeTarzian.com (Self Published)
Content Warning: Depression, Anxiety, Guilt, Loss, Death, Anger, Alcohol
“The stars shine high above my city of Rach Na’Shuul as they have done for years; memories and hopes, for my beloved home is dead…
“The stars shine high above my city of Rach Na’Shuul as they have done for years, for like ruin they are slaves to perpetuity…
I sit, now, in the courtyard of a spire-keep and do as I have done for years-
I listen. To a prelude long and dark.
A herald to a symphony of broken dreams.” Luke Tarzian, The World Breaker Requiem
The World Breaker Requiem, by Luke Tarzian, was probably the most unusual fantasy novel I have read. I will say that after reading it, it is not the type of fantasy I normally read. There was magic, world building, and well-developed characters that are typical parts of fantasy novels. It was, however, very dark, more so than many grimdark fantasies I have read. Since the dark, desolate world was difficult for me, I will rate this book on what I feel the author wanted to accomplish as I feel would be unfair to rate it any other way. It is perfect for anyone who enjoys dark, psychological fantasy. I was also reading this book when we received news that the brother of one of our closest friends passed away from COVID. That certainly could have added to my reaction to novel. My reaction is complicated, especially after reading Mr. Tarzian’s Acknowledgements and the place where he himself was at when he wrote the book. It put quite a bit into perspective. Readers of this review should not interpret this as a dislike of the book. The opposite is true, this book is remarkably brilliant in how it is written.
When I started reading The World Breaker Requiem, I felt as if I was stepping into a Salvatore Dali painting. It was surreal, and like the painter himself, brilliant. The world and many of the characters are unlike any other in fantasy. They are bizarre, dark, desolate, and depressing. Like a Dali painting, reality is distorted. We meet one of the main protagonists, Avaria Norrith, who has a contentious relationship with his mother, the queen. She sends him on a journey to recreate the sword, The Raven’s Rage, which could re-write history and set their world right. At the same time, the second protagonist, Erath, sets out to find the blade in hopes of helping her people, confined underground for the misuse of the blade. Both want to make everything right again; bring back those that were lost in wars, the cities in ruin. Avaria has a longhound companion, Geph, who can speak, but does not accompany him on his journey. Avaria dreams, and ends up in dream worlds where he meets people and receives cryptic messages. The most disturbing to Geph was one about sinhounds. Unleashed, they will wreak havoc on the world. Geph would know, he is one and committed untold horror:
“Geph wept at her feet. She had died peacefully-they all had, with grins stretched wide across their faces. It horrified him; the joy of corpses wormed its way inside his mind, tattooed itself to Geph so he would never forget what had transpired this day-what he had done this day.” Luke Tarzian, The World Breaker Requiem
When the journey begins, the book takes an unusual turn. Avaria travels to abandoned cities, meets strange beings. He runs into Erath, whom he knows, and they travel together. The travels are wrought with meeting these strange people, some are disguised gods. The sheer amount of characters Mr. Tarzian created is amazing, each with their own personality and agenda. I will admit, at times, it was hard to follow some, as they disguised themselves as others our protagonists knew. They get separated, more abandoned cities, realms in between reality and death. Where they travel is desolate, brings despair, and confusion to them both. They come to cities to destroyed by the sinhounds and could only stare at the horror the beasts brought.
“What must this place have looked like once? Before it fell, before rock and snow consumed it for their own. Erath assumed it had been beautiful…Her fingers brushed the wall of a small structure; she winced-a distant wail kissed the depth of her mind. Touched the wall again, longer this time; the wail turned to shrieks…What happened here?” Luke Tarzian, The World Breaker Requiem
What shines in this book is the prose. Although it is dark, it is beautiful and poetic. As we follow the characters, we feel their despair, their longing, their hope. We see the horrors they see, the confusion as to what has happened in the places they travel too. The writing elicits a visceral response. I felt very alone, like the characters. I felt their despair. I felt hopeless as I read this novel. While not my usual read, I can certainly appreciate the brilliance of Mr. Tarzain’s writing. It did not quite hit me until after I finished it. The feelings I had lingered and I felt, for lack of a better word, empty. This is exactly what The World Breaker Requiem was supposed to do. The description of the book is a dark and psychological fantasy, and this certainly accomplished its goal. Poetry takes on many forms, and in this novel, within the writing, the prose is stunningly grim and beautiful at the same time. How? I’ve always maintained that good writing elicits a response from the reader. For me, the writing touched me very deeply, feeling everything the characters did. I wanted their despair and desolation to end. To Mr. Tarzian, thank you for showing me a very different, albeit dark, side of fantasy.
The World Breaker Requiem, a dark, psychological fantasy, is masterfully written by Luke Tarzian. This was my first exposure to his writing. While not my usual fantasy read, the writing was deeply effective, and draws the reader into this surreal world. There are many worlds, some real, some dreams, and still others that straddle reality, dream worlds and even death. Each is amazingly crafted to bring together this story of trying to remake the world. I think perhaps this is a reflection of what many of us long for. What if we could reset our world? What if we could bring back those who are lost? The despair and desolation in this novel are like a mirror for us. In it, we see how we feel when we lose someone we love, or feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. If one steps back from the fantasy element, I felt this is what Mr. Tarzian was communicating. In the surreal worlds and beautifully dark poetic prose, he captures those feelings as we read the characters journeys. We so desperately want them to accomplish their goals. For if they do, perhaps not all is lost. I highly recommend The World Breaker Requiem for anyone who loves dark, psychological fantasy. You will not be disappointed in this novel
Summary (from Escapist Tours)
Prince of Woe…
Avaria Norrith is the adopted heir to the Ariathan throne. But that means little to a man who, for the better part of fifteen years, has sought and failed to earn his mother’s love. Fueled by pride and envy, Avaria seeks the means to prove himself and cast away his mental chains. When he’s tasked with the recreation of The Raven’s Rage he sees his chance, for with the infamous blade he can rewrite history and start anew.
Daughter of the Mountain…
Erath has not felt sunlight for a century. Not since Ariath condemned her people to a life of darkness with their misuse of The Raven’s Rage. But when an old friend comes seeking the remnants of the ancient sword, Erath cannot contain her curiosity and resolves to lend her aid. Is it true—can history be revised? Can her people be reclaimed?
Toll the Hounds…
They are hungry—and they are here.
My sincere thanks to Escapist Tours for an eBook copy of The World Breaker Requiem.