The Commander’s sons, Liam and Conner — along with their friends Eliana, Malcolm, Russell, Logan and Tessa — were not supposed to encounter danger on their trek into the rainforest to gather herbs. While old enough to recognize the perils of the Black Tide and to know the basics of weaponry, leadership and medicine, they are still too inexperienced to be put in harm’s way. Even skillful Attia, the Pathwalker assigned to guide them, has only seen fifteen harvests. But the friends, in JR Konkol’s CITADEL OF THE FALLEN, quickly find themselves in greater danger than they could have imagined. From this overture, the story unfolds: their home, the Citadel, one of the remaining human strongholds in a world overrun by demons, may fall. Their abilities, and the threats they face, are far more than they appear to be.
Author JR Konkol thoughtfully interweaves familiar high fantasy elements — swordplay, magic, walled strongholds standing against chaos — with several well-designed and unexpected elements. In keeping with the genre, civilization is at risk and those who would destroy it are sadistic, although the demon Guardians Cinderhorn and Erranaekis do bicker over the best approach to wanton destruction. Peril is visceral, whether it comes from the mindless, driven Black Tide, or at the hands of the scheming Chariden, the demon queen. The manner in which the back story, world, and plot elements are revealed is well-pitched and well-paced. Konkol also works effectively to bring each member of his inexperienced, imperfect and unexpected team to life. Each chapter, named for a specific character, is written from their perspective; we grow close to the seven teens at the heart of the action. For each of them, gaining skill comes at a cost, survival requires both courage and self-knowledge, and working together is critical. Beyond these commonalities of growth, every preoccupation and motivation is particular. As the story gains momentum, each character is richly realized in the context of the action required of them.
Konkol has a cinematographic knack for actions scenes. He crosscuts between characters readers care about — small groups engage in complex choreographies of battle and shifts seamlessly from close-up to wide shot from the slice of a single blade to the shattering of distant protective runes. In so doing, he deftly creates energy, engagement and suspense.
JR Konkol’s CITADEL OF THE FALLEN is a worthy entry in the high fantasy genre featuring distinct characterization, strong world-building and great action scenes in which good and evil, necromancers, warriors and demons contend for the survival or destruction of humanity.
~Ellen Graham for IndieReader