Tag Archives: Fantasy – Epic

The Doom of Fallowhearth

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Doom of Fallowhearth [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Robbie MacNiven, part of the Descent: Journeys in the Dark series.

MacNiven The Doom of Fallowhearth

This book is — as far as I know — the first novel-length fiction to be set in the proprietary fantasy world of Terrinoth, identified with a considerable number of games under the Fantasy Flight imprint: Runewars, Descent, Runebound, Rune Age, BattleLore Second Edition, Heroes of Terrinoth, and probably some others as well. Its topic is the reunion of the “Borderlands Four,” a party of adventurers who have been enlisted to find a missing noblewoman in the outlying northern reaches of Terrinoth.

By and large, the games present Terrinoth as a bog-standard heroic fantasy world, with elves and orcs, dwarves and undead, dragons and giant spiders. This book seems careful to preserve its canon while highlighting a few elements that might seem different from the usual post-D&D synthesis of pulp sword-and-sorcery with Tolkien-style epic fare. There is at least one major pivot in the novel, amply foreshadowed, and not profoundly surprising, but the ending is a bit unconventional. It reads quickly, and does offer the sort of fleshing-out for its setting that this sort of story is concocted to achieve.

The main viewpoint characters here are the orc Pathfinder Durik and the rogue Logan Lashley. The former is the most upstanding and ethical character in the whole book, as far as I could tell, which thus comes a long way from Tolkien, but is consistent with the Terrinoth source material, I think. The aging and self-conscious Logan is something of a buffoon. In other non-standard fantasy characterizations, the whole story mentions only two amorous relationships, and they are both same-sex arrangements, neither of them stigmatized for that reason. The main one is stigmatized, but for necromancy, and that is central to the larger plot — a fact introduced in the prologue.

Ironically, the book’s branding is for “Descent: Journeys in the Dark,” a longstanding dungeon-crawler tabletop game that appears to have had its publication suspended in favor of “Descent: Legends of the Dark,” a sequel game driven by a digital app. A second “Descent” novel by a different author was issued just four months after this one, and I find it somewhat tempting, as it involves the Uthuk Y’llan, savage demonolaters who do not appear in The Doom of Fallowhearth.

“We’re all in this together,” she said, which was a typically Fifth assumption. The Ninth didn’t think anyone was in anything together, or if they were, they all had to disperse as soon as humanly possible to avoid splash damage.

Tamsyn Muir, Harrow the Ninth [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Muir Harrow the Ninth- in this together assumption disperse avoid splash damage

She had found a nasty, forbidden little book in the great Ninth repositories of nasty, forbidden little books, and all the Houses would have had a collective aneurysm if they knew she’d even read it.

Tamsyn Muir, Gideon the Ninth [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher]

Hermetic quote Muir Gideon the Ninth nasty forbidden little book