The first volume of a fantasy sequence collectively called Tyrants and Kings, The Jackal of Nar
starts off with a grueling account of what is still trench warfare even if its weaponry is magic flame cannons and trained wolves. The hero Richius is fighting a war he does not believe in for an emperor he loathes. Quite minor incidents come back to haunt him--he prevents a rape and makes a mortal enemy of a rival commander, and the almost casual decision to remain in a tavern in the company of prostitutes produces an obsession that dominates his life.
Marco's frequent clumsiness of style and plotting are almost irrelevant; Richius is a flawed hero whose sense of his own righteousness costs those around him even more than it does him, and there is a real power to his story. This is a book with some splendidly corrupt villains--the Emperor Arkus, obsessed with the pursuit of longevity and the manipulation of everyone around him; Biaggio, his smoothly vicious chief of police--and with opponents of whom we learn more when Richius is forced to change sides; Tharn, the fundamentalist wizard and warlord; and his aging servant Voris. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
The central character of Marco's debut novel, an epic military fantasy, is Prince (later King) Richius of Aramor, who when introduced is a captain in the army of the Nar people, fighting the racially and culturally distinct, more numerous and definitely aggressive Trin. In the process, he rescues Dyana, a Trin woman, and they fall in love. But their liaison is seen as a misalliance by both their peoples, and Richius returns to his own land, to succeed to the throne, command larger armies and make an arranged marriage (as does Dyana). After too many pages?which seem not completely filled despite the intrigue and treachery everywhere, both magical and purely human?the lovers find themselves free and reunited. But they are still not considered an acceptable match (the racial tension between Nar and Trin forms a strong aspect of the world building here), nor have their enemies abandoned the field. Marco's first novel offers an unusual and imaginative mix of well-conceived magic with a technology that includes gunpowder, oil fuel and trench warfare. Its plot is rife with twists and intriguing kinks, and should captivate most fantasy fans, though those who squirm at its length must be forgiven.
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