“He did not see a man, he saw a Talion Justice.
And he feared I was the last thing he’d ever see.”
Nolan ra Sinjaria is not only one of the fierce elite warrior group called Talions, he is a member of the Justice subgroup tasked with tracking, judging, and passing sentence on criminals in nearly every corner of the Shattered Empire. Though fully committed to his duties, Nolan’s past looms heavily over him and might shape not only his own future, but that of entire kingdoms.
I completely adored this when I first read it a couple years ago, and it remains my favorite fantasy novel after my second visit. There is less impact upon reread because the twists aren’t as flooring, but it’s equally nice to notice all the little clues laid in throughout the book when going through it again.
The book isn’t perfect and there are several genre cliches employed, but as always it’s the way those cliched elements are used that really matters. Here they’re woven together wonderfully with a handful of complex, diverse characters, a suspenseful atmosphere with good surprises, and Stackpole’s usual incredible word building. Nolan’s world, its history, and the specific role of the Talions is all fascinating and adds considerable depth to the action of the story (of which there is plenty). There seem to be a few minor internal inconsistencies here and there, but they don’t detract from the enjoyment of the story the framework supports.
Stackpole is an expert at providing vivd detail without bogging the pace down, and everything from the landscapes to characters to battles is extremely easy to visualize. This increases immersion exponentially and contributes to the compelling nature of Nolan’s adventures. It also enhances the perception of time and space, which is particularly important because of the parallel storytelling employed here. It’s done flawlessly.
The other key, which is always a big point with me, is that the plot is driven as much or more so by character as it is by action and events. There are various agendas and personalities in opposition and the story properly centers around individual feelings and reactions to what’s happening in around the characters and how their agendas align or conflict. Most importantly, the main characters are strong and smart but not infallible, which allows readers to admire and cheer for them while still empathizing with their struggles.
I found Talion: Revenant to be a fantastic read initially and am pleased to say it held up well the second time through. Highly recommended.