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Kagen the Damned


Kagen the Damned

Jonathan Maberry is a natural storyteller. Effortlessly moving from genre to genre, he has written stories that are achingly readable. Quite frankly, I would pay to read Maberry rewrite the phone book! From both a reading and publishing standpoint, who could ask for anything more?

When I learned that Maberry was venturing into the territory of dark fantasy, I was intrigued. I am happy to report that KAGEN THE DAMNED is fresh, exciting and fun to read. Despite being over 500 pages, the novel never veers off into unnecessary passages or character arcs and just stays on the path at hand, telling a great story that had me grinning from ear to ear.

"KAGEN THE DAMNED is a pure pleasure read that even non-fantasy readers will appreciate. It’s an adventure novel that harks back to the old, serialized stories of yore that were simply fun and entertaining."

“Kagen Vale woke to the sound of his own damnation.” This sentence pretty much sums up the first chapter, which is utterly brilliant. Kagen is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protecting the royal children of the Silver Empire. But in the span of one drunken night in which he engages in all forms of debauchery, their arch enemies --- the Hakkians --- take down the palace. The children are gone, feared dead like the rest of the imperial family.

Kagen learns that he was drugged that night, which literally let his guard down. He is now “damned,” forced to spend the rest of his days feeling sorry for himself, never able to forgive his own soul for what he unintentionally let happen. He must find a way to reclaim what was once his from the Witch-king of Hakkia, who was behind the massacre. But how?

Meanwhile, we find out that two of the children did indeed escape and are on their own, trying to remain unnoticed by their enemies. Ryssa and Miri are not even aware that Kagen is still alive or that he might be looking for them. All they want to do is keep a low profile until they can be reunited with anyone from their past and reclaim their seats of power. But with the Hakkians and mercenaries seemingly everywhere, that appears to be an impossible task.

The Witch-king is defying his own odds as he has allegedly come back from the dead on multiple occasions. Kagen’s own prophecy spoke of this, but even he will not be prepared for what the Witch-king is until he finally confronts him in the book’s final pages. It is worth the wait and provides a mighty revelation that will blow you away. While the Hakkians are preparing to anoint and crown their own leaders to a new throne, Kagen must find a band of warriors to join him in opposing this action. It will not be as easy as it sounds.

Since we are in the hands and fertile mind of Jonathan Maberry, you know there will be some wild adventures featuring our loyal protagonist as he marches toward his inevitable showdown with the Witch-king and those who have broken and dishonored his kingdom. I especially love Kagen’s interactions with Tuke, the bartender/warrior who trains with him and stays loyal to his cause, even though he seems to know more than Kagen does about the eventual outcome and what they are actually facing.

KAGEN THE DAMNED is a pure pleasure read that even non-fantasy readers will appreciate. It’s an adventure novel that harks back to the old, serialized stories of yore that were simply fun and entertaining. Maberry easily checks off those boxes here, and I cannot wait for the next entry in this outstanding series.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 20, 2022

Kagen the Damned
by Jonathan Maberry

  • Publication Date: May 10, 2022
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250783976
  • ISBN-13: 9781250783974