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REVIEW: Herald – Lee Hunt

Herald - Lee Hunt

Genre: Fantasy

Reviewer: Scott

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About The Book

Robert thought becoming a dynamicist would enable him to change the world, starting with saving all his friends from being slaughtered. He was wrong. 

Acts of genuine creativity used to bring mortal punishment. But now, wizardry is dead and Robert, Koria and Eloise live in a world where change and invention is possible.

Robert hopes that mathematically-framed dynamics will enable him to change the new world. But he keeps having prophetic dreams where his friends are all murdered by a mysterious cloaked man, and the grain protestors are more menacing than ever. They declare dynamics is dangerous and that the changes must stop. They are right about one thing: dynamics is dangerous, especially for someone so hopeful, angry and impetuous as Robert.

Soon Robert’s horrific nightmares come true and a cloaked man appears on campus, stalking and murdering students –his friends are next.

Desperate to change the future, Robert recklessly pushes the bounds of both dynamics and reason. Every crushing failure dampens Robert’s hope for the future and pushes him a step closer to the powerful, nihilistic, and merciless Lonely Wizard.

The Review

I just finished Herald, the second book of Lee Hunt’s Dynamicist Trilogy. I was halfway through when I realized the first two books are told from a single point of view – Robert Endicott (as of this novel, Sir Robert Endicott, though he’s still a student).

I’d normally feel a little claustrophobic about this. I adore multi character POV novels – throw a Wheel of Time book or something from the Lord of the Rings or the Shannara series at me and I’m in hog heaven. My own writing is the same, tending to a whole host of points of view that sometimes earn me praise and sometimes scorn from reviewers and readers.

But somehow Hunt pulls it off. While there were a few times I wanted to wander off with Koria or Heylor or one of the others, this story is primarily Robert’s story, as he comes into his own powers and tries to find the balance between haste and going slow. (spoiler alert – book three – Knight in Retrograde – widens the focus, with multiple character POVs).

I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Dynamicist. But this book is stronger, if only for its twists and turns and bombshells that drop into your lap and explode like an overheated cake.

Oh yeah, did I mention there’s a whole chapter dedicated to exploding cakes? What better to test your emerging powers on than cake batter?

Hunt knows his stuff. He spent hours—days? Weeks?—working out the details of his magical system. He walks us through it an exercise at a time, and while sometimes these sections move a little slowly, don’t worry Another bomb’s about to go off around the next corner.

Over the first two books, I’ve become attached to these characters – even gruff Merrett and never-still Heylor, who gets his moment toward the end.

There are glimpses of LGBTQ+ characters here and there, always a plus in my book, though I’d challenge Hunt to go a little further in that regard in his next book/series. But it’s a minor quibble.

Once Endicott reaches the Line—the border with a truly dangerous neighboring land—things shift into high gear and stay there for most of the rest of the book. Our hero breaks through to wield his powers in a truly impressive way, and all the lessons we sat through with him come to the fore. But in the end, we’re left wondering what kind of man Robert Endicott will be when the series comes to a close in book three, Knight in Retrograde.

A little warning here. The ending is not exactly a happily ever after. But it does reveal a core secret, and sets things up nicely  for the last book.

Herald is quite a ride, one I’d recommend taking if you love fantasy and want something that’s not like everything else already on your SFF shelf. And that’s one of the highest compliments I can give to a well-written, page turning book like this one.

And with that, I’m off to war – see you again after book three!

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Liminal Fic, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.  

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