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Kagen the Damned

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Sworn by Oath Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins. Abandoned by the Gods Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take Sworn by Oath Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins. Abandoned by the Gods Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of this enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world—returns in strange and terrifying ways. Fueled by Rage To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire. Kings and gods will fear him. Kagen the Damned


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Sworn by Oath Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins. Abandoned by the Gods Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take Sworn by Oath Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins. Abandoned by the Gods Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of this enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world—returns in strange and terrifying ways. Fueled by Rage To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire. Kings and gods will fear him. Kagen the Damned

30 review for Kagen the Damned

  1. 5 out of 5

    PamG

    Jonathan Maberry’s foray into epic dark fantasy is a fantastic start to a new series. It features Kagen Vale, the captain of the palace guard and protector of the royal children of the Silver Empire. One night when he is off-duty, the entire imperial family is killed and the empire is in ruins throughout all of its nation states. Kagen feels abandoned, heartbroken, and haunted. He turns to alcohol and vows to kill as many of the enemy as he can until he can kill the Witch-king of Hakkia who will Jonathan Maberry’s foray into epic dark fantasy is a fantastic start to a new series. It features Kagen Vale, the captain of the palace guard and protector of the royal children of the Silver Empire. One night when he is off-duty, the entire imperial family is killed and the empire is in ruins throughout all of its nation states. Kagen feels abandoned, heartbroken, and haunted. He turns to alcohol and vows to kill as many of the enemy as he can until he can kill the Witch-king of Hakkia who will soon be crowned emperor. His rage fuels him as he wanders the lands and gathers allies. Kagen is a strong character with plenty of good qualities, but also many flaws. However, he initially isn’t very likeable. His petulance, guilt, and rage consume him. Can he find a way to regain his balance and overcome magic and sorcery? Kagen is not the only one that wants to kill the Witch-King. The nun Miri and a fifteen year old girl Ryssa manage to escape the capital city. What role, if any, will they play? Another nun, Mother Frey, and her cabal of friends have plans as well. But can any of them succeed or is all lost? Who is the Witch-King that came from nowhere and is so enigmatic with a veil covering his face? The characters are well drawn and unforgettable. Maberry’s writing is always great, but his world-building in this novel was fantastic. There was a strong sense of time and place causing me to feel transported, as though living the events alongside the characters. There was a balance between cultural elements, historical events, and action that made the reading experience an immersive one. The book ends with more of a cliffhanger than I would have liked. While the epilogue helped, there are still a lot of unresolved threads for future books in the series. Themes include different cultures and religions, battles, heroes, how history can be altered or slanted by those recording it, treatment of the defeated and dead, magic, sorcery, and much more. Overall, this was suspenseful and action packed with compelling characters that kept me turning the pages. It’s an impressive start for the first novel in a new series. I’m looking forward to reading the next one. If you are looking for a dark epic fantasy with twists, action, and a few surprises, then this is one you may want to check out. St. Martin’s Press – St. Martin’s Griffin and Jonathan Maberry provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for May 10, 2022. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine. -------------------- My 4 star review of this epic dark fantasy will be posted 3-4 days after it appears in Mystery and Suspense Magazine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    LIsa Noell "Rocking the Chutzpah!"

    My thanks to St. Martin's press, Jonathan Maberry and Netgalley. I spent the first 30% of this tale with a major mad on! I hated it! Kagen the drunk. Kagen the whiner. Still, I kept reading on. There are really very few authors that I'd do that with, but Maberry is one. Truth is that I've enjoyed every book I've read from this author. I've not read all of them, but.. So, I'm glad I stuck with this one! I will say that it's not my "idea" of fantasy. But it is a kind of fantasy. There are so many type My thanks to St. Martin's press, Jonathan Maberry and Netgalley. I spent the first 30% of this tale with a major mad on! I hated it! Kagen the drunk. Kagen the whiner. Still, I kept reading on. There are really very few authors that I'd do that with, but Maberry is one. Truth is that I've enjoyed every book I've read from this author. I've not read all of them, but.. So, I'm glad I stuck with this one! I will say that it's not my "idea" of fantasy. But it is a kind of fantasy. There are so many types of tropes here. Fantasy, supernatural, horror, science fiction. Almost too damned much! But, I'm willing to read more. Turns out that I ended up happy as a pig in shit! Bring on the next books!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I love Jonathan Maberry and I was super excited to read a fantasy book written by him. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even finish the book. I used to enjoy Grimdark books but not so much any more depending on how bad it is with the grim and graphic scenes. I really wanted to find out more about Kagen as I like his character. I would loved to have bought these books for my collection as they came out but I’m going to pass. I’ll stick with Mr. Maberry’s other books. If you love grimdark fantasy at its I love Jonathan Maberry and I was super excited to read a fantasy book written by him. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even finish the book. I used to enjoy Grimdark books but not so much any more depending on how bad it is with the grim and graphic scenes. I really wanted to find out more about Kagen as I like his character. I would loved to have bought these books for my collection as they came out but I’m going to pass. I’ll stick with Mr. Maberry’s other books. If you love grimdark fantasy at its best, you will love this book! Trigger warning for what I did get through: Graphic scenes of all things imaginable to men, women, children. A mention of killing animals, not sure if it got worse but I can imagine it did. *Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for a digital copy of this book. Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    As a huge fan of Maberry's Joe Ledger series, I was excited to read his fantasy debut. Kagen The Damned opens with the world burning and the Elder Ones beginning to stir. Kagen Vale wakes up with a massive hangover and learns that the Hakkian army had killed his family and the Empress. Gethon Haklan, the Hakkian Witch-king, has won. No one can resist his dark magic. The usurper prepares for a coronation to gain complete (and official) control of the Empire. Kagen flees certain death but falls int As a huge fan of Maberry's Joe Ledger series, I was excited to read his fantasy debut. Kagen The Damned opens with the world burning and the Elder Ones beginning to stir. Kagen Vale wakes up with a massive hangover and learns that the Hakkian army had killed his family and the Empress. Gethon Haklan, the Hakkian Witch-king, has won. No one can resist his dark magic. The usurper prepares for a coronation to gain complete (and official) control of the Empire. Kagen flees certain death but falls into despair and drowns his sorrow in alcohol. Meanwhile, magic seeps into reality and changes everything. Maberry excels at writing action scenes. But, it turns out he's also a skilled world-builder. I loved how he defined and introduced people's beliefs and then crushed them. I loved how he mixed folkloric elements with the Cthulhu mythos and politics. Readers get a strong sense of a place and its customs, but they don't need to follow the backstory pages. Just the way I like it. On the other hand, enthusiasts of deep worldbuilding will probably feel that the setting lacks depth. Maberry focuses on the plot and characters, giving enough context to understand their circumstances, but he never gets the story bogged down with unnecessary explanations. The publisher markets Kagen as grimdark. I agree. It's a bleak and brutal story, not without some humor, but gritty and unforgiving overall. Some passages require the reader to have a strong stomach (like a necromancer "reading" entrails). I didn't mind, but here's the thing. Kagen The Damned is a violent pulp read, fast and furious, with fantastic ideas and creepy mythos, but without the nuance that some grimdark books offer. As a character, Kagen falls on a flattish side. He's young, brash, and highly-skilled, a superior fighter who doesn't think much of himself. Of course, we are supposed to cheer when he finds a goal (kill the Witch-king ) and stops drinking, but such a change is hardly surprising. Maberry's characters have well-defined personalities and are all memorable but rarely complex. I love it in his Joe Ledger series, but I could use more character-building in Kagen. Now, don't get me wrong. Kagen and other protagonists are distinct, and you won't forget them anytime soon. It's just that their motivations and development aren't "organic." Cthulhu mythos plays a vital role in the story. Maberry impressed me with his take on Elder Ones. The series's opening suggests Elder Ones (Hastur, Cthulhu) have plans for this world, and humans are merely pawns. I'm excited! As an experienced writer, Maberry has good control over pacing and structure. His writing is mostly accessible, but sometimes he indulges in vivid comparisons ("She was very tall, with flowing hair the color of midnight and lips red as all the sin in the world"). I like his style, though I suspect it won't appeal to everyone :) I had a great time reading it despite minor reservations and finished the book in two sittings. Short chapters and excellent pacing make it difficult to stop and do something else :) I'll preorder the sequel as soon as it's listed for sale. TL;DR: Cthulhu mythos + magic returning to the world + antiheroes doing the right thing. I had a good time reading it. Arc through NetGalley.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Athena (OneReadingNurse)

    The Plot: This is a dark fantasy novel about the conquest of an empire and the subjective failure of one of it's guardians.  I was drawn in by the synopsis and like the idea of conquest and revenge.  There is nothing terribly original about the plot or the main ideas of magic being bad and outlawed, a chosen one come back to avenge the nation, etc, but I still enjoyed it. If nothing else the plot moves quickly, with plenty of action scenes and alternating points of view to move the story along.   The Plot: This is a dark fantasy novel about the conquest of an empire and the subjective failure of one of it's guardians.  I was drawn in by the synopsis and like the idea of conquest and revenge.  There is nothing terribly original about the plot or the main ideas of magic being bad and outlawed, a chosen one come back to avenge the nation, etc, but I still enjoyed it. If nothing else the plot moves quickly, with plenty of action scenes and alternating points of view to move the story along.   The themes: Kagen shined most in it's themes for me.  The main character had to deal with letting his guilt go after he believed he was responsible for the fall of the empire and had been forsaken by his Gods. There were questions and themes of honor, oaths, oppression, monsters vs saviors, and found family.  One of my favorite themes centered around What Makes a Monster? Is the conquering Witch-king a monster for decimating a nation that did much worse 1000 years ago? Is a dragon or a grotesque creature a monster just because it kills to feed itself, or is hideous? Obviously per Grimdark there are also themes of brutal violence, in pretty much any imaginable fashion... I liked the brutality of the dark elements and the historian figure who carried his own theme of re-writing history for the victors. The Characters: I think the book is about 70/30 plot/action vs character driven Kagen is about as morally gray as you can get, but he's got values.  I liked his story and his path to redemption.  Tuke is another main character who swears by the BALLS of about 1000 different creatures, he was hilarious.  The friendship/bromance between those two was hilarious and provided the comic relief The witch-king ... Is probably the most brutal A-Hole I have seen in a while, but some of his points are solid.  He liked killing. A lot.  His high priestess practices a rather grotesque form of necromancy that had me equal parts CRINGING and wanting to see more.   I hated one storyline though where a 20 something year old "nun" more or less lied to, then seduced her 15 year old "cousin", and then either pretended or believed that fooling around with another female maintained their religious purity. Well joke is on them, I would almost guarantee that's why their ritual didn't entirely succeed. A few other things: I think I needed more from the magic. There wasn't much described except the necromancy. How did the rest work?  I also think too many modern and real elements slipped into an otherwise made-up and highly creative world (like Cthulhu. I love him but he didn't quite fit).  There was everything else from alternate realms to outer space mentioned and I think it created too much white noise in an otherwise straightforward fantasy world.  I wanted more from Kagen's dreams and the Dragon in the ice. Hopefully in the next book.  Overall: there is a lot to process in this one but overall, I liked it. There is a lot of absolutely excellent Dark Fantasy out there and I think that this is a good one for people who might be looking to sample the genre. While it doesn't deep dive into the world-building and fantasy elements so much, the author maintains a fairly consistent mood and keeps the book moving.  I will plan on reading the second installment when it is released!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lou Jacobs

    KAGEN THE DAMNED #1 by Jonathan Maberry An immersive epic dark fantasy that is a melange of the best in heroic and sword & sorcery works of the past masters. Rivals the scope of Game of Thrones, with elements of Robert E. Howards’s “Conan The Barbarian” , while borrowing from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cthulhu Mythos”, and projecting the cinematic quality of “Indiana Jones”. Our intrepid hero, Kagen Vale is the captain of the palace guard and is sworn by oath to protect the children of the Silver Empire. KAGEN THE DAMNED #1 by Jonathan Maberry An immersive epic dark fantasy that is a melange of the best in heroic and sword & sorcery works of the past masters. Rivals the scope of Game of Thrones, with elements of Robert E. Howards’s “Conan The Barbarian” , while borrowing from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cthulhu Mythos”, and projecting the cinematic quality of “Indiana Jones”. Our intrepid hero, Kagen Vale is the captain of the palace guard and is sworn by oath to protect the children of the Silver Empire. While off-duty and enjoying the benefits of a maiden, he is drugged and fails to note the ensuing calamity enveloping the city. When he is eventually aroused from the drug addled stupor he rushes to the palace only to find the royal children butchered, after being tortured and defiled. He witnesses his father’s death and attempts to unsuccessfully intervene in a sword fight involving his mother, who is taking on a multitude of dark knights. The lavishly choreographed fight scene is a marvel to behold. The fact that the invading army “appeared out of nowhere” without warning is the first hint that magic has been used …. even though outlawed for a thousand years. Kagen miraculously escapes, only to be haunted by his oath failure and grief at the annihilation of his and the royal family. Surely he is “damned” by the gods. While on the road and fleeing for his life, he vows to kill as many of the Hakkian enemy as possible .. with the end goal of killing the Witch-King of Hakkia before he can be coronated as emperor. He will encounter many colorful friends and foes on the road in his attempt to seek revenge and retribution. Maberry crafts a masterful complex and twisted tale, steeped in intrigue, menace and mounting obstacles. His world building and fight scenes are thing of absolute beauty and poetry. The elements of magic and sorcery are introduced so effortlessly that would make Lovecraft, Howard and Poe proud. The main characters are multilayered and compelling … the reader cannot help but identify with them as the suspense and action escalates to a crescendo denouement. The lyrical prose is laced with well placed humor …. irony, sarcasm , good natured blistering insults and a stream of colorful epithets that adds texture to this epic fantasy. Introduced are the concepts of the presence of many worlds, on different planes and the notion that time is truly not linear. Very appealing is the insertion of elements of the Cthulhu mythos. Although there is an artful crisis and conclusion during the denouement, many loose threads remain to be explored and enjoyed in future volumes. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication on May 10, 2022

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robin (Bridge Four)

    This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Kagen the Damned is the first book in a new Grimdark fantasy series Kagen the Damned and it is dark.  Kagen was part of the royal guard, trained by his mother the personal bodyguard to the empress he was supposed to protect the royal children.  But the city was invaded while he lay drugged in a whore's bed and everything he li This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Kagen the Damned is the first book in a new Grimdark fantasy series Kagen the Damned and it is dark.  Kagen was part of the royal guard, trained by his mother the personal bodyguard to the empress he was supposed to protect the royal children.  But the city was invaded while he lay drugged in a whore's bed and everything he lived for, all of his honor is lost and Kagen believes he has failed his honor and is damned. The first 10% of the book is the sacking of a city and it is rough.  The Witch-King of Hakkia performed a masterful attack and was able to take over the entire silver empire in one evening.  His people were overthrown in much the same way over a thousand years ago when the Silver Empire slaughter many of the Hakkia people, outlawed their gods and magic persecuting and who practiced.  The tides have turned and Witch-king has brought magic back to this land and outlawed only the new gods of the Silver Empire. Kagen takes awhile to warm up to as he spends some time after the events in the beginning of the book lost in a drunken stupor.  It takes some hard truths and a new friend, Tuke, to pull him out.  Tuke was a much needed breath of fresh air and humor the story really needed.  He has a quick wit and way with a turn of phrase that added a little light to all of the dark we had been dealing with.  He is a good balance to Kagen and able to help him see a path that might mean vengeance against the Witch-king. I did like how this book toyed with good and evil.  Is the Witch-king really evil for wanting his people to be free to practice their religion and thrive in a world with magic again?  Are the monsters of the deep and a dragon evil for needing to feed themselves or looking hideous?  Do you blame the nature of an animal for what they need to do to survive or is their a balance that can be reached?  There are truths to every story and whoever writes the history gets to decide what those truths are.  It is a powerful thing. I do wish we got to do more with the last dragon on earth currently trapped, that seemed like a quest worth going on.  Kagen has magic himself, even though he was taught not to speak of it.  He was probably born for this time in the world where new gods are awakening and the Witch-king is trying to bring hell to earth. There are plenty of interesting characters.  The historian selected to rewrite the history of the last 1000 years to make Hakkia the slighted country and the Silver Empire the villain.  Mother Frey, once of the religion of the garden, with three different prongs to a plan that might be able to save them from what the Witch-king has in store.  There is Ryssa and Mara, nuns escaped from the city on the night it was sacked and now on an Island where they are protected but there is a devious plot that is hidden until near the end.  This storyline lost something for me halfway through as women became lovers.  Not because they were women, but they were nuns and one nun was well into her 20s while the other was barely 15 it seemed a bit on the edge a pedophilia and blasphemy all at the same time. This had a lot of great ideas and moments in the book if you can get past how dark it is.  I usually don't read anything quite this dark.  But I think the plot could have been a little cleaner as there is a ton of stuff going on in the background.  I think that will play into the next books of the series but didn't have much to do with what is happening now.  The book was engaging though and I did have a hard time putting it down after I got to 35-40% but did debate on DNFing earlier.  Maberry is good at writing conflicted characters though and through the multiple PoV was able to develop was layered story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    DNF at 20% in. I love fantasy books, and I love books with characters that have flaws or are (in this case) 'damned'. However - what I do not appreciate are books where a single night takes 20 chapters to get through. TWENTY CHAPTERS. This book is in need of an editor. Someone who can tighten these twenty chapters. Brandon Sanderson is an author who is great on creating description and plot movement. This author unfortunately does not excel in such so the twenty chapters is full of endless descri DNF at 20% in. I love fantasy books, and I love books with characters that have flaws or are (in this case) 'damned'. However - what I do not appreciate are books where a single night takes 20 chapters to get through. TWENTY CHAPTERS. This book is in need of an editor. Someone who can tighten these twenty chapters. Brandon Sanderson is an author who is great on creating description and plot movement. This author unfortunately does not excel in such so the twenty chapters is full of endless descriptions of actions and following Kagen mourn and grieve over characters you don't even know or don't even care about. There is no backstory, there is no flashbacking... just info dump after info dump. Honestly, I don't mind gore but I felt with all the above combined with the gore made it a very unsatisfied read. There might be an audience for this book but I think it would require you to have never read a fantasy book before.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    Confession: I am not a fan of the fantasy genre. I've dipped my toes into the fantasy pool now and then, but am usually left cold by it. Most of the books I've tried in this genre have ended up in my DNF pile or, in the case of those series where I managed to finish Book 1, left me deeply uninspired and disinterested in continuing. The only works I've found to match my tastes and sensibilities, thus far, have been George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, and R. Scott Bakker's Kellhus Confession: I am not a fan of the fantasy genre. I've dipped my toes into the fantasy pool now and then, but am usually left cold by it. Most of the books I've tried in this genre have ended up in my DNF pile or, in the case of those series where I managed to finish Book 1, left me deeply uninspired and disinterested in continuing. The only works I've found to match my tastes and sensibilities, thus far, have been George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, and R. Scott Bakker's Kellhus books. In point of fact, I very nearly passed on reading an ARC of Kagen the Damned save for one sole, deciding factor: Jonathan Maberry. I dig the hell out of Jonathan Maberry, see. Given how much I've loved his Joe Ledger books and P.I. Monk Addison from Glimpse and Ink, if anybody was going to make me give the fantasy genre another try, it's this guy. After a night of drinking and whoring, Kagen Vale - whose job and sacred duty is to protect the Empress's children - sleeps through the opening volley of a devastating invasion that destroys the Silver Empire and leaves Argentium under the rule of the Hakkian Witch-King. Magic has returned to the world after a thousand years of being outlawed, and in one single night the Witch-King topples an entire empire and usurps the throne as the new emperor. Having failed so completely in his duties and oath to the Empress, the gods have turned their back on Kagen, leaving him damned and adrift, but with a single goal: to kill that black-hearted son of a bitch Witch-King. Right from the outset, Kagen the Damned is a dark, bloody, and violent affair. Admittedly, this appealed to me greatly and Maberry's widescreen action scenes that dominate the book's opening sucked me right in. To make matters even more exceptional, Maberry drags Lovecraftian gods into his sword and sorcery epic, infusing the proceedings with a nice layer of cosmic horror. I thought I was in with this violent romp through the kingdom, but throw in some Lovecraft mythos? Gods of the Pit, I was in-in! Kagen makes for an exceptional hero, and his fall from grace is as tragic as his attempts at redemption are savage. A skilled knife-fighter, it's rare that Maberry passes up the opportunity to remind us just how proficient and merciless a bladesman Kagen is, or why his skills earned him a place on the Empress's protective detail. What's even more compelling, though, is the moral conundrum presented by the rise and fall of the Silver Empire, and Hakkia's place among the kingdom's territories. While there's a certain degree of empathy to be had for the Hakkian people, it's hard to sympathize with the action of the Witch-King and his Raven soldiers, squarely making this a conflict of good versus evil, albeit with varying shades of gray to muddy it all. Admittedly, I went into Kagen the Damned with low expectations, based only on my own past disappointments with previous fantasy stories. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see what Maberry brought to the table here. Worst-case scenario, I thought, this book would just be one more title in my DNF pile of fantasy books. Instead, this turned into the best of best-case scenarios. I not only loved Kagen the Damned, but turned that last page ready for more adventures with this motley crew of warriors. It's also given me a bit of an itch to try some more fantasy books and see what's happening of late in that genre, particularly in the field of grimdark sword and sorcery. Only time will tell if that itch can be satisfied, or if I must be left waiting for Kagen's second adventure to hit the shelves.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cillian

    "The Witcher meets Game of Thrones..." Enough with this Game of Thrones garbage; enough with comparing even the Walmart specials with Game of fucking Thrones. Enough with this. It's not the only fantasy book ever written, not every book tries or has to be GoT. Martin doesn't even give a shit anymore, can people do the same? Okay, fine, GoT has the biggest dick and won every pissing contest there is. Great; here, have an award. Can we move on now? Can we be done with this bullshit? Fucking cringe "The Witcher meets Game of Thrones..." Enough with this Game of Thrones garbage; enough with comparing even the Walmart specials with Game of fucking Thrones. Enough with this. It's not the only fantasy book ever written, not every book tries or has to be GoT. Martin doesn't even give a shit anymore, can people do the same? Okay, fine, GoT has the biggest dick and won every pissing contest there is. Great; here, have an award. Can we move on now? Can we be done with this bullshit? Fucking cringe.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

    This one started out slow for me, but we had to get to know what was going on, the world the story was set in and who everyone was. It really picked up about half way through, was hard for me to stop listening to the story. I feel for Kagen, for how he was betrayed at the start, but that was nothing to what he discovered at the end, that betrayal so huge. I wished we could have had more of his reaction, but I guess that will have to wait for the next book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Miller

    I mostly enjoyed this to such an extent I will continue with the series as they come out. Still, I felt at times it was too much like his character Joe Ledger in a fantasy series. Maybe part of that is the same audiobook narrator, but still, Kagen did not feel like a new fully enfleshed character to me. Plus there are my usual qualms with Maberry's novels and elements having me skip ahead. I mostly enjoyed this to such an extent I will continue with the series as they come out. Still, I felt at times it was too much like his character Joe Ledger in a fantasy series. Maybe part of that is the same audiobook narrator, but still, Kagen did not feel like a new fully enfleshed character to me. Plus there are my usual qualms with Maberry's novels and elements having me skip ahead.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews

    Kagen the Damned is a meaty book, 560 pages and chock-full of story. There are authors who write good stories; they pull you in and create a connection with the protagonist, they are innovative and bring you to a new and exciting place. Then there are authors who write great books; they do all of the things that make a good book and then some more; their supporting characters are given as much attention as the protagonist, they make you run the whole gamut of emotions. They make you tense, laugh, Kagen the Damned is a meaty book, 560 pages and chock-full of story. There are authors who write good stories; they pull you in and create a connection with the protagonist, they are innovative and bring you to a new and exciting place. Then there are authors who write great books; they do all of the things that make a good book and then some more; their supporting characters are given as much attention as the protagonist, they make you run the whole gamut of emotions. They make you tense, laugh, cry, just everything. Jonathan Maberry is one of those authors. Just read the synopsis, Kagen the Damned is a story of war, death, turmoil, and destruction. Why was I laughing? Because Maberry knows that the story has to be multidimensional; the story and the protagonist must have layers. The secondary characters need and get as much attention to detail as Kagan, their every action adds to the enjoyment of the story. As a book one, Kagen the Damned did exactly what it should have done: I’m invested, I like the characters (except for the ones I hate), and I want to see the story resolved. Will I read book two, hell yeah! Sign me up now! Over the past few years, I’ve been avoiding series, I find that they get repetitive after a while. I want to see some change/growth/evolution in my protagonists. There are too many authors who get a good thing going and they just ride that pony for as long as they can. I hope that Maberry can wrap up Kagen’s story in a nice trilogy. A good 1 500 to 2 000 pages in total. *I received a copy of the book from the publisher (via NetGalley).

  14. 5 out of 5

    D. B. Guin

    This book is so new that I don't feel right shredding it. Instead, I will simply give a quick menu of things you can expect to find in this story, so that you can judge for yourself whether you'll enjoy it or not: • Remember the "I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep" speech from Name of the Wind? Kagen is not nearly as dramatic as Kvothe (and neither does he deserve to be) but there is a core of him that loves this vibe. The prose occasionally breaks This book is so new that I don't feel right shredding it. Instead, I will simply give a quick menu of things you can expect to find in this story, so that you can judge for yourself whether you'll enjoy it or not: • Remember the "I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep" speech from Name of the Wind? Kagen is not nearly as dramatic as Kvothe (and neither does he deserve to be) but there is a core of him that loves this vibe. The prose occasionally breaks out with a NotW rash of self-aware grandiosity as well. • "Gods of [insert thing]." A third of the dialogue is someone exclaiming or better yet, breathing this. • Relationships? There is one friendship that consists of Kagen and another dude swearing at each other and exchanging lots of penis humor. That's about it. • The ratio of rape scenes to sex scenes is about 50/50, and the amount of both is "kind of a lot." • Special Honorable Mention: entering the cursed tower and having sex with evil vampire faerie woman, but instead of draining Kagen's lifeblood as she has done to all others over the centuries, she helps with the quest and lets him leave. Kagen, after all? He's special. • Island of sexually liberated Cthulhu-worshippers. • So much violence and gore. It's weird how some stories are able to infuse so much shock and horror into something as simple as a slap, and then there are books like this where someone being gang-raped to death and their body mutilated happens a LOT and it's yawn-worthy. I came so close to DNF-ing this, only sheer stubborn will pulled me through. That, and the Cthulhu subplot. I did want to find out what the hell was going on with that, and honestly I'm still not sure what happened.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing. When the captain of the palace guard is drugged, and lets the royal family get massacred,and his city taken over, he goes on the run, killing his enemies at every opportunity, when he hears the royal twins may be alive. Considering the author, I felt this was pretty ordinary. I was expecting something...well, better.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katie Mercer

    This is a very quick-start book. I really wanted to love it, but it's honestly a really hard to get into. Generally Maberry is an author I enjoy, but there was a lot going on with this, and I kept fighting the urge to go back to see if I missed something, and part way through I did check to see if I missed a first book. The ending was really solid, but it seemed to take me forever to get there. This is a very quick-start book. I really wanted to love it, but it's honestly a really hard to get into. Generally Maberry is an author I enjoy, but there was a lot going on with this, and I kept fighting the urge to go back to see if I missed something, and part way through I did check to see if I missed a first book. The ending was really solid, but it seemed to take me forever to get there.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aracely

    Unfortunately I can’t finish this book. This was my first encounter with this authors work and definitely is not for me. I’m always open to try new stories out of my comfort zone, but this one here is way too much for myself. Very graphic scenes of sexual violence, this is way to dark and just can’t keep reading. I have to thank NetGalley and St Martin Press for trusting me with an advance copy of this book, I wish all the success to all the parts involved in this. Happy reading 🥰

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm sorry to say this probably won't be the review Jonthan Maberry or St. Martin's Press was hoping for. This book was painful to read from the first page, and it never got any better. The story begins at the end of civilization as Kagen knows it, with his beloved empire falling to the villainous, black magic-using Hakkians. Kagen is caught with his pants down (literally), and fails to protect the royal chi Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm sorry to say this probably won't be the review Jonthan Maberry or St. Martin's Press was hoping for. This book was painful to read from the first page, and it never got any better. The story begins at the end of civilization as Kagen knows it, with his beloved empire falling to the villainous, black magic-using Hakkians. Kagen is caught with his pants down (literally), and fails to protect the royal children in his charge. The gaping plot hole of how he wasn't killed in his sleep like every other soldier isn't even acknowledged, let alone addressed. Queue a very long 15% of the book that was literally just a naked Kagen running around figuring out how badly his world is crashing down on him, and realizing how completely he's failed. Nearly every other chapter switches points of view to Ryssa, an orphan preparing to become a nun. Ryssa and her guardian run and hide throughout the battle, find some mysterious, secret tunnels, and then disappear from the book for a long time. Once Kagen accepts that his home is lost, he leaves the palace to sink into a state of drunken despair, resigning himself to the suicidal mission of killing every Hakkian he can one by one. Except Kagen takes the time between leaving the palace and starting his quest to meet up with an old friend, have sex, and smile and laugh over some drinks, completely ruining the organic flow of his arc. He was suicidally depressed when he left the palace, went to a friend for solace and had a good time, then actively chose to go back to being depressed and suicidal when it was clear that he was capable of thinking clearly and had alternatives. Along the way, Kagen meets a bunch of new people, including a witch who would have been killed for having nearly passive magic under the old regime. For someone as devoted to his empress as Kagen was, he comes to the conclusion rather quickly that the religious persecution of magic users in his kingdom wasn't necessarily a good thing. This book felt like something the author was so excited to write, he rushed through the first draft, then was too impatient to fill it out. The bare bones were there, but the writing was just so disappointingly lazy. The language was over-dramatized and read as though dictating what should appear on a movie screen. Every conversation was one big bad's monologue. The characters were one dimensional and even the main character was treated like a plot device instead of a person. Everyone was introduced as their role or profession ("the soldier," "the nun," "the empress," etc.), and while they were given names, and more often than not, with the exception of Kagen, they were still referred to by their title, de-humanizing them. Everything about the writing and the characters felt hollow. There was also a strong vein of sadism running throughout the story, with a near obsession with rape. Put a man and a woman in a room together, and she's getting raped. Unless it's Kagen; then she's safe. Because he's the hero, right? Well, he may be the protagonist, but that's the only thing heroic about him. It's a bit like watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where the bad guys are depicted as bloodthirsty savages for no good reason, with some truly graphic and unnecessarily cruel punishments. I mean some of them were fairly creative - I'll give Maberry that - but it was in a torture!porn kind of way.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bookish Selkie

    Kagen the Damned follows the eponymous man who believes he is damned and whose gods have turned their backs on him. One night, a brutal coup strips him of his charges, his family, and all he holds dear. Tragically, he does not arrive in time to save the royal children. Surviving against all odds, Kagen swears revenge against the person responsible- the mysterious and terrifying Witch King. The stage is thus set for a grimdark epic fantasy, as magic is brought back to a world that has long forgot Kagen the Damned follows the eponymous man who believes he is damned and whose gods have turned their backs on him. One night, a brutal coup strips him of his charges, his family, and all he holds dear. Tragically, he does not arrive in time to save the royal children. Surviving against all odds, Kagen swears revenge against the person responsible- the mysterious and terrifying Witch King. The stage is thus set for a grimdark epic fantasy, as magic is brought back to a world that has long forgotten it. Despite the dire circumstances in which readers initially find him, I didn’t feel a strong sense of interest in Kagen. While his circumstances were indeed grim, I didn’t find the choices he made as a result particularly compelling. It felt like the book struggled to balance the level of gore and assault one might expect during a coup with shock value. Ultimately, I did not find Kagen a likable or relatable character. He was a character of extremes. This ranged from self-congratulatory over his substandard treatment of women to self-castigating over honest mistakes. The writing felt clunky and unpolished. I particularly disliked the ending for two of the only queer-coded characters, which had an unpleasant twist. However, this series certainly has a lot of potential and I look forward to learning what is next for Kagen. I know Jonathan Maberry is a beloved author and now that the world-building and circumstances have been established in book one, perhaps book two will be more my cup of tea. Thank you to Jonathan Maberry, St. Martin’s Griffin, and Netgalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aimee Neill

    I was completely enthralled with this book — my only complaint is that I’m finished reading it and I need more of the story NOW! Okay, okay. I’ll be patient. I’m completely invested in Kagen and company. I love a good fantasy world with just enough historic accuracy to make the reader wonder about alternate universes and other world that developed similar but oh so differently from the world we know. Gods, mythology, how different cultures worship, and how all these things can be so similar (god I was completely enthralled with this book — my only complaint is that I’m finished reading it and I need more of the story NOW! Okay, okay. I’ll be patient. I’m completely invested in Kagen and company. I love a good fantasy world with just enough historic accuracy to make the reader wonder about alternate universes and other world that developed similar but oh so differently from the world we know. Gods, mythology, how different cultures worship, and how all these things can be so similar (gods serving similar functions and such) yet so different based on the people worshipping — land or sea, war drive, desert dwellers, hidden forest people, and so on. If epic battles, intrigue, quests, heroes & villains, history written by the victorious vs the defeated ones’ version, and unanswerable questions pique your interest you won’t want to sleep on this one.

  21. 4 out of 5

    April

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Jonathan Maberry does it again! First of all, publishers take notice, this cosmic horror and dark fantasy gem deserves a hardback edition followed by special deluxe editions not just a paperback. What an outstanding opening battle scene. Jonathan Maberry starts 'Kagen The Dmned' by explaining how Kagen became dmned in the first place. By dropping readers directly into the brutal, savage resurrection of the Hakkian Empire and fall of the City of Argentium, he had my heart racing from chapter one. Jonathan Maberry does it again! First of all, publishers take notice, this cosmic horror and dark fantasy gem deserves a hardback edition followed by special deluxe editions not just a paperback. What an outstanding opening battle scene. Jonathan Maberry starts 'Kagen The Dmned' by explaining how Kagen became dmned in the first place. By dropping readers directly into the brutal, savage resurrection of the Hakkian Empire and fall of the City of Argentium, he had my heart racing from chapter one. The religious world-building is extensive but relevant. I loved the Cthulhu tie-in. Maberry did not pull any punches, they all land. What an amazingly dark mythic faerie tale. I enjoyed reading every page. If you have any triggers this probably isn't the book for you but I personally enjoyed the level of darkness. Caution Potential Spoilers follow: It reminded me of 'Empire of the Vampire' by Jay Kristoff with a Darth Vader style twist. That was a little disappointing because it was pretty loudly telegraphed. In fact, it was probably not meant to be a twist at all but I think it would've played better if it had been. Other than that, I have no criticism. Maberry's writing is compelling, emotionally moving, thought provoking and action packed. Tuke's repeated quips about balls were funny and made him a favorite character of mine. I absolutely will be buying a hardcopy. Thank you to Mac Nicholas, Marketing Coordinator for St. Martin’s Publishing Group for inviting me to review this early. Kagen the Dmned is going to fall into my best books of the year.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Grace (Azrael865)

    As with all of Jonathan Maberry's writing, this story is relentless. It opens with a seige on the Silver Empire and the 13 nations it is comprised of. All the capitol cities are taken in one bloody night. The Silver Empire came into existence at the expense of the defeat of the nation of Hakkia and their sorcerer ruler known as The Witch-King. Now Hakkia is back in power and The new Witch-King is eager to complete his coronation to solidify his right to rule the new Empire. Kagen Vale was the C As with all of Jonathan Maberry's writing, this story is relentless. It opens with a seige on the Silver Empire and the 13 nations it is comprised of. All the capitol cities are taken in one bloody night. The Silver Empire came into existence at the expense of the defeat of the nation of Hakkia and their sorcerer ruler known as The Witch-King. Now Hakkia is back in power and The new Witch-King is eager to complete his coronation to solidify his right to rule the new Empire. Kagen Vale was the Captain of the royal guard of the Silver Empress and her family. Even though he was off duty, he is on the point of breaking from his failure to save the royal children and from witnessing the death of both parents. His only driving desire is revenge. This story follows Kagen on his road to redemption, though he doesn't feel he deserves it, in a world where forbidden magic is now reawakening and strange things are happening. I never saw the final twist, during the ending climax, coming. Jonathan Maberry has touched on the world of HP Lovecraft and the existence of many other worlds in his writings before and it is exciting to see that aspect expanded on in this world. I look forward to seeing more from these new characters and if I had any complaints it would be that I didn't have a world map to look at because this is a digital ARC of the book. That will be fixed as soon as the book is published because I am buying a copy right away. Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin's Press for the opportunity to entire into this start of an exciting fantasy epic.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    *Source* Publisher *Genre* Dark Fantasy / Epic Fantasy *Rating* 4.0 *Thoughts* Kagen the Damned is the first installment in author Jonathan Maberry's Kagen the Damned series. The book is being sold as The Witcher meets Game of Thrones. Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, specifically charged with protecting the royal children of Gessleyn, 89th queen of the unbroken line of the Silver Lands. He's also the son of the famous Poison Rose who is one of the deadliest women in *Source* Publisher *Genre* Dark Fantasy / Epic Fantasy *Rating* 4.0 *Thoughts* Kagen the Damned is the first installment in author Jonathan Maberry's Kagen the Damned series. The book is being sold as The Witcher meets Game of Thrones. Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, specifically charged with protecting the royal children of Gessleyn, 89th queen of the unbroken line of the Silver Lands. He's also the son of the famous Poison Rose who is one of the deadliest women in the Silver Empire. But one night while off duty, Kagen is drugged by a woman in a tavern and left weaponless. *Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews* https://gizmosreviews.blogspot.com/20...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    Review to come

  25. 4 out of 5

    David S Meanderings)

    I'm not gonna star rate this because I didn't finish it, but I think this is gonna be a DNF for me. It's not that it was bad so much that it was just "meh" up until the 30% where I stopped. There are just too many great books in the world for me to push through meh books. I'm not gonna star rate this because I didn't finish it, but I think this is gonna be a DNF for me. It's not that it was bad so much that it was just "meh" up until the 30% where I stopped. There are just too many great books in the world for me to push through meh books.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matt Spaulding

    I am not a huge fantasy lover, but I am big fan of Jonathan Maberry so of course I read this. Solid story and world-building. Shades of Stephen King's Dark Tower series and Lovecraftian horror woven with traditional sword-and-sorcery fantasy give this book a very unique feel. I am not a huge fantasy lover, but I am big fan of Jonathan Maberry so of course I read this. Solid story and world-building. Shades of Stephen King's Dark Tower series and Lovecraftian horror woven with traditional sword-and-sorcery fantasy give this book a very unique feel.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    3.5 Stars ——————————————————————————- I'm 35% completed with Kagen the Damned: I'm a pretty big fan of Jonathan Maberry so I was excited to get this ARC. This seems to be a fairly big departure from any of his existing series-or at least anything that I've seen out there from him. But with that being said, it is a really hard book to get into. The world building is difficult - I am not faulting him, but there is a WHOLE lot going on in the beginning even before we have time to understand this new 3.5 Stars ——————————————————————————- I'm 35% completed with Kagen the Damned: I'm a pretty big fan of Jonathan Maberry so I was excited to get this ARC. This seems to be a fairly big departure from any of his existing series-or at least anything that I've seen out there from him. But with that being said, it is a really hard book to get into. The world building is difficult - I am not faulting him, but there is a WHOLE lot going on in the beginning even before we have time to understand this new world. The new male MC - Kagen - at this point is coming across as a big whiny baby. Granted, he does have reason, but it is hard to stomach because as a reader, we have not be given the chance to bond with him so that we can therefore root for him. I am really getting tired of his "drinking his way to the bottom of the bottle". This happens every day...EVERY SINGLE DAY. Now, I understand that in this genre the hero is plucked from obscurity to become the "unlikely hero", but...honestly.....how much longer do we have to wait before he starts becoming that guy? When we keep reading that he wakes up with vomit all over him, missing one shoe, filthy dirty, talking to himself....this is not the behavior that I picture from a hero. Besides that - the world building IS extremely interesting. The "big bad" villian is really......well, he's AWFUL (and really scary). The stakes are being set up pretty well against our unlikely hero, so I am excited that when he decides to get his act together, that it is going to be awesome. At least....that is what I am hoping. So...only 35% in...but, I AM patient. Let's see what happens. (But if I am being honest...I hope it starts happening soon....) ———————————————————————————- FINALLY finished this ARC Finally finished. It was extremely hard for me to get into and that is a very rare thing. Yes, it was long, but that wasn't the reason. I liked the premise. Kagen finally grows on you (after a very awful start) but the pacing is very difficult. Way, way way too slow. It did finally pick up in the last - say - 25% of the book -and from that point on it was easy to continue on and my interest was peaked. Will I continue with the series? Honestly, at this point, I just don't know. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me this ARC. The opinions above are mine and mine alone.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael O'Connell

    This is just the beginning of Jonathan Maberry’s foray into epic dark fantasy. It started in the middle of an all-out invasion where things were happening fast. The Silver Empire was being overrun in the most unbelievable of ways. There is viciousness and brutality against pretty much anything that lives. The invasion itself was over in a flash of banefire, then the story slowed to a trickle or a few dozen mugs of wine and ale. Things can slow in epic fantasy because of world-building and charac This is just the beginning of Jonathan Maberry’s foray into epic dark fantasy. It started in the middle of an all-out invasion where things were happening fast. The Silver Empire was being overrun in the most unbelievable of ways. There is viciousness and brutality against pretty much anything that lives. The invasion itself was over in a flash of banefire, then the story slowed to a trickle or a few dozen mugs of wine and ale. Things can slow in epic fantasy because of world-building and character development. The story follows multiple storylines, along with more than a few flashbacks. But then? Then all the snares and webs and traps had been set, and the tale took off. Kagen is our unlikely hero. Of course, he is the main character and should be the hero, but as the aftermath of the invasion sets in, it looks less and less likely that he has any hero left in him. He is haunted and, because of the circumstances at the beginning of this book, damned with no hope of salvation. I could have done with a little less of Kagen the Drunkard, but it reveals to what depths our hero has sunk. If that bothers you, don’t let it put you off. Stick with the story, it grows and twists and is full of rich characters, male and female alike. The Witch-King of Hakkia and his cronies make for some great villains. And there are the side stories with nuns, the undead, and the minions of Cthulhu. Those threads will keep you guessing right up to the end. This story has it all. Interesting, complicated, and mysterious characters? Epic battles and sharp cutty things? Check. Sorcery, enchantment, and creatures? Check. Thieving? Yup. Blood? Gore? Magic? Political intrigue? Check, check, check, and oh, yes! From the outset, we were told that Kagen the Damned is "the first installment of an exciting new series of dark epic fantasy," so don’t be disappointed when this tale ends on a maddening cliffhanger. It will leave you wanting more. I cannot wait for book two, Son of the Poison Rose! Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for providing an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    OMG!!! First of all I want to thank MacMillan books for sending me this ARC! I don’t know where to start. I was completely hooked by the second page of this book. This is a epic fantasy book that is amazing! There is so much world building and character development. Kagen (the MC) is such a unique guy and a sort of antihero which I love so much! He seems to find himself in the crappiest situations. I’ve never been more scared of a villain than I was of the villain in this book (the witch king). OMG!!! First of all I want to thank MacMillan books for sending me this ARC! I don’t know where to start. I was completely hooked by the second page of this book. This is a epic fantasy book that is amazing! There is so much world building and character development. Kagen (the MC) is such a unique guy and a sort of antihero which I love so much! He seems to find himself in the crappiest situations. I’ve never been more scared of a villain than I was of the villain in this book (the witch king). He literally scares me to death, but in the best way. He’s every legit villain that everyone wants to read about (not the stereotypical one that everyone loves .. blah blah). There are also some side characters that I enjoyed that I can’t wait to see where their story goes! The ending legit killed me!! I cannot wait until the sequel! Hopefully I get to read it early too! 😂

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ray Curto

    I was given a free copy of Kagen the Damned by Jonathan (author), St Martin’s Griffin (publisher), and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Kagen the Damned is the first book in the Kagen the Damned series and was published on May 10, 2022. Apologies for the late review. This review will contain no spoilers. Trigger Warning: cannibalism, violence directed toward children, torture, and detailed description of violence I would characterize Kagen the Damned as dark fantasy with a bit of epic fa I was given a free copy of Kagen the Damned by Jonathan (author), St Martin’s Griffin (publisher), and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Kagen the Damned is the first book in the Kagen the Damned series and was published on May 10, 2022. Apologies for the late review. This review will contain no spoilers. Trigger Warning: cannibalism, violence directed toward children, torture, and detailed description of violence I would characterize Kagen the Damned as dark fantasy with a bit of epic fantasy or high fantasy because of the multiple settings, several characters, and a heavy dose of magic. The story takes place in several locales such as a large city similar to what a city would in the pre-industrial age, a large boat, a lush and tropical island, and a tower. Magic is very critical in the story. At the beginning of the story, a nation, whose people used magic and its religion was influenced by magic, was under the heel of the empire for a thousand years. The empire forced the nation and its people to stop using magic. As a result, magic disappeared from the world until the new leader of that nation rose to power and invaded and controlled all the major cities and countries over one night. The main character is a knight-type character who was drunk on the night of the invasion and something horrific to the ruling family which caused him to enter a deep and dark spiral fueled by alcohol. I had a hard time connecting with the main character until the halfway through the story because I did not find him compelling or interesting. I was more interested in his compatriots and the backstory of his family, particularly his older brother. The story moved at a steady pace and there were not any dead spots or the sluggish middle. The issue I had was that I did not see how the story featuring the nun and the young woman had any connection to the larger plot about the disgraced knight-type character, and I was taken out of the story on more than one occasion when reading about the nun and the young woman. The part of the story that took place in the tower was interesting, but similar to the part featuring the nun and young woman, I did not see how it was tied to the major plot arc. I believe Kagen the Damned is the first dark fantasy novel that Mr. Maberry wrote and it is clear that he has the chops because he created an engaging and compelling world. Even though I had some qualms with Kagen the Damned, I think I would be interested in reading the next story in the series. I rate Kagen the Damned 3 stars. I would like to thank Mr. Maberry, St. Martin’s Griffin, and Net Galley for the free E-ARC.

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