Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Bastard Reaction: Dead Reign by T.A. Pratt
After a few disappointing urban fantasy reads recently, Dead Reign by T.A. Pratt was a welcomed change. This is the third installment of the Marla Mason series, and it gave me just what I was expecting to get out of it. I'm glad I held back continuing the series after finishing up Poison Sleep a few months back, as reading Dead Reign when I did was just what I needed at the time.
Death has come to Felport, and naturally it's chief sorcerer Marla Mason who has to put a stop to him before he destroys her precious city. The timing is inconvenient as she has to appease the ghosts of the founders by throwing a party in their honor or risk mayhem through her city. By the same token, she's short on allies and people who she can trust, not that trust has ever been something she could count on in her world. Needless to say that Marla finds herself outmatched by a god, but that has never stopped Marla from picking a fight to defend her city.
Marla Mason is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in fantasy, a no-nonsense kickass heroine with a heart of gold. At least that's how she resides in my mind; love is blind I guess. We see more of that here as Marla takes on an entity that simply is too powerful even for her. But who cares, right? If someone is going to take over Felport it'll be over Marla's dead body, and who better for the job than Death himself.
After each installment the character interaction has been better and better. The author seems to have hit his comfort zone; the dialogue has good rhythm and the characters and the world complement each other perfectly. While in the first Marla Mason novel there were a few head scratchers for me in how some elements might have seemed a bit out of place, everything being introduced just seems to fit naturally right now regardless of how outlandish it may seem. It all starts with how well Marla has come along, and especially the great supporting cast she has been surrounded with, beginning with her "sidekick" Rondeau who has become a fascinating character in his own right.
Dead Reign more than just being a novel about Marla overcoming odds to protect her city, it's also about soul searching for her. As such, I couldn't think of a more fitting title for the novel, the dead in some form or another have left their imprints allover this novel. Marla undertakes a journey where she literally faces the demons of her past, which in ways have been stunting her personal growth. Through the novel we get to know her better than ever before, expressly aspects of her past that we've been in the dark about. Not only that, we also learn about the nature of magical artifacts, in particular that of the dagger of office and Marla's cloak.
My only real complaint is that through Marla's journey we are faced with a few scenes that I didn't care much for, particularly ones that were rehashes of events we've already experienced. Other than that, a ton of fun and full of gratifying events. It has a cliffhanger for an ending, one that I very much liked. I say that, but know that the plot that was laid out in Dead Reign was concluded. It's inconsequential though since you can just pick up the next novel and continue the story without a problem, which I did.
In any case, another entertaining novel from T.A. Pratt which has the Marla Mason series steadily climbing the ranks among my favorite urban fantasies. It's a series that I can easily recommend to any urban fantasy reader, and welcome readers outside the sub-genre to give a try.
Buy Dead Reign from The Book Depository.
Make sure to follow T.A. Pratt's website and the dedicated Marla Mason site for more info.