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Spirits of Vengeance: a standalone Mortal Techniques novel (The Mortal Techniques) Kindle Edition
Haruto swore his soul to the God of Death for the chance to hunt down the vengeful ghost of his wife. He’ll die as many times as it takes.
Now an onmyoji, he’s tasked by the Imperial Throne to hunt down monsters and malicious spirits. But he knows not all spirits are evil and not all deserve the peace of the sword.
The Ipian Empire was once a land that welcomed dragons and spirits alike, but a century of war and bloodshed has seen them all but vanish. Now, the lost things are returning and the Onryo have gathered. Five legendary spirits with mysterious powers, bent on freeing an ancient evil that would wreak havoc on humanity.
As a plague of spirits sweeps across the land, the Onryo leave a bloody trail for Haruto to follow. But who’s hunting who?The Mortal Techniques novels are a series of stand-alone stories that can be read entirely independently, set in the award-winning Mortal Techniques universe. A thrilling read for fans of Will Wight and Andrew Rowe
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★★★★★ "Equally explosive, emotional, and pulse-pounding. Successfully delivered an exceptional narrative brimming with staggering impact." - Petrik Leo, Novel Notions
★★★★★ "Action packed and entertaining, with a unique magic/spirit system was different and interesting." - K, Goodreads Reviewer
★★★★★ "This is an S rank book!" - Benedict, SFF Oasis
★★★★★ "This book is so good. Think of the anime Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer)." - Jon, Goodreads Reviewer
★★★★★ "An exciting, wonderfully-written novel about immortals, spirits, monsters, Qi, dragons, and gods." - Tim, Goodreads Reviewer
★★★★★ "Unpredictable and engrossing." - Nick, Goodreads Reviewer
★★★★★ "What to say about this book?! I loved it! I loved it! I loved it!" - Nuno, Goodreads Reviewer
★★★★★ "Atypical fantasy with great action, badass characters, and an ever-expanding world." - Nik, Goodreads Reviewer
- ASIN : B08SM9BBNC
- Publication date : September 28, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 5489 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 624 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #75,361 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Within Spirits of Vengeance we meet Haruto, an imperial appointed warrior who hunts and kill evil spirits, and set free the souls of those Yokai he can. His companions are Guang Meng, a self-proclaimed poet and bard of dubious talent, who has a mysterious past. The two make a strange pair and their constant ribbing of one another is a delight. Speaking of delights, Haruto has a spirit companion named Shiki who appears as a fuzzy ball of black fur with spindly legs. Her playful animosity and antics possessing other creatures belie the fact that she is a deadly force when she is possessing Haruto’s sword. The trio make their way across the lands, with Haruto displaying his seal for the villagers to know his presence and sell his services.
A group of horrifying onryo, are seeking the prisons of the dragons, and are destroying villages and murdering innocents to get the information they want. Onryo are rare and powerful yokai, and for them to band together in their purpose is dangerous beyond imagining.
Soon, Haruto and Guang are drawn in by the destruction and death the onryo leave in their wake. They join with Yanmei and Kira, survivors of a vicious attack which also takes the life of Guang’s son. Yanmei is a repeat appearance that has a terrific story line. Together, they must find a way to stop the destruction of mankind and deal with their own curses and blessings. Each of them seeking vengance in their own way. Haruto seeks the yokai of his dead wife. Yanmei, must find a way to stop her own technique from killing her. Guang is tested over and over to keep the vows he swore in his own blood and Kira seeks her own identity and how to come to terms with her past.
All of the characters, their depth and mystery, combine with a terrific tale that is full of great fight scenes, magic, and monsters. And…let’s not forget the DRAGONS! They are both wondrous and deadly. I loved the dialogue and was emotionally connected from start to end. I love that both Yanmei and Kira’s tales originated in the first two books in a small part. It’s no wonder they made their way into this book, they left quite an impression and have powerful voices. This is the longest book in the series and more epic in proportion, spanning decades and for some conflicts even centuries.
Hayes always provides some really good introspection on politics, mortality, friendship, and strength of heart. Spirits of Vengeance satisfies on all levels for me. The setting, the rich folklore it’s based upon, the meddling of gods, the terrifying onryo, the power of qi as a magical basis for mortals, all fill an epic story that’s both bloody and full of feeling.
The prologue takes place in the Heiwa academy, a place for children with special abilities or techniques (as they are called in this world). Where they can learn to harness their techniques. It is a special place and the headmaster is Konihashi the Fifth Sage Under Heaven (remember that name, it’s an important one). We are then introduced to Haruto, an immortal Onmyoji (a demon/spirit hunter akin to Geralt the Witcher) who alongside a poet named Guang goes everywhere trying to help the local populace getting rid of Yokai and other pesky spirits. He is constantly destroying his kimonos and only has Guang for company. Guang is an old man who recites horrible poetry, frequently curses using vegetable names (you will find out why before the end) and helps Haruto in his ultimate quest.
The book also re-introduces us to Kira who the readers first met in Pawn's Gambit in a very, very small way. Kira is a unique girl with extra-special abilities and is mentored by Yanmei, her teacher from the Heiwa academy and the person whom she considers as a mother. Yanmei is also a character we have met in the previous titles and here the readers get to see an older & stronger warrior who is on a quest of her own. Yanmei knows more about Kira’s past than she does. However, she doesn’t know how to help her.
Amidst all of this, and powering the main storyline are a group of five Onryo (vengeful, destructive spirits) who are being led by a mysterious entity They are searching for an ancient prison as the contents of that prison might change world (but for the good or worse no one knows). This is the main gist of this epic story awaiting readers within as all of these characters are striving to find out their raison d’etre
The story is very different from Never Die and Pawn's Gambit. This is more of an epic fantasy story and there is a lot more going on within the world as well. The readers get to see a new nation and its problems (like having dual competing royal families who are locked in an internecine conflict spanning decades). The storyline also ties heavily tied into a past pivotal event, which is the focus of the short story The Century Blade. I would really recommend that readers read that short before they read this book. However if you don’t, you will still get a complete story within.
The main thrust of the story is still its characters and this is a special characteristic of Rob J. Hayes. All of his books always feature characters who are brilliantly etched, no matter where they fall on the moral spectrum. In this book we get six-seven POVs and this is really helps in expanding the story. As I mentioned previously this story is more in the epic fantasy vein and it all builds up. This story is all about past regrets and letting go of them. Each of our characters have experienced massive amounts of pain and suffering in their lives and it has lead them to where they are now.
Haruto is immortal but not at peace as he searches for his wife. Kira does not know who/what she is and where she comes from. Guang is furthermore tormented by his past and has sworn several, severe oaths to make the world and himself forget who he was. Yanmei is the one character who is the most heroic but even she cannot escape the wounds on her psyche. Among the Onryo, all of them are conflicted but none more so than Crow who struggles to contain themselves within a physical robe as otherwise they would disparate. The others similar to Crow do not recall any of their past besides the pain that they experienced when they left their human shell and now they inflict all of that and more to whom they meet.
“We live in a world of people passing their pain to others. It shouldn’t be that way.”
There is also a lot going on in the past that has led to the current issues that our main characters face and Rob explores this beautifully throughout the book. Almost everything that happens within this story as well to each of our characters has ties to the past and I loved this aspect of the story. There are quite a few nods to the previous books, which canny readers will spot. There are a lot of stories and past events mentioned within this book and it adds to the richness of the characters and the world. I loved each and every story or legend that was mentioned.
The best past about this book is that it spectacularly combines the action-packed approach of Never Die and the deep, thoughtful characterization of Pawn's Gambit. This book is also nearly double the length of the previous books and this is well spent in giving the reader a well-crafted story that will hold your attention through and through. From the snowcapped mountains, to the different types of spirits that Rob mines Japanese mythology so successfully for. The world presented is a living, breathing one and as previously the readers got the know the land of Hosa, they now are immersed with the land and legends of Ipia.
The action sequences within this story are gory, charismatic and mostly on a personal level. They reminded me of many sequences from Never Die however, the action here is more supernatural and no less brutal. One particular example is the final fight between Haruto and the Onryo master. But possibly the best sequence within this book falls on to the most powerful character of them all Yanmei. It’s an action sequence, which would have made David Gemmell proud and has the same cathartic effect as well. For a Yanmei fanboy like myself, it was better than her fight with the Ticking Clock in Pawn’s Gambit. The author has also enlisted Stas Borden to illustrate a few scenes within the book and they are spectacular to say the least.
For me this book did have a couple of drawbacks, namely that the book’s pace is not that streamlined as its predecessors. This is very much a byproduct of the detailed world-building within the book. There are a lot of stories/legends that are narrated by Guang (mostly) and a few other characters. These might seem unnecessary (at the start) and often slow down the story. However, there is a grand plan at play and they all have a huge payoff in the end. Lastly for me, the way the story ended and with the epilogue revelations, I can’t wait to read what happens next within the world. This is not a drawback but that’s going to be a few years away as Rob mentioned in his interview on Fantasy Book Critic what he will be working and releasing next in 2022-23.
CONCLUSION: Spirits Of Vengeance is a tour de force that brings to an end to the Heroic age of the Mortal Techniques series. It begins with a blast and ends with an explosive finale that upends the world and lands within. This book has it all action, character development, heroic deaths, creepy creatures and most of all a thrilling finale that ties up the story in a spectacular way. I don’t know about you but for me, that’s exactly what I look for in a story.