We have a masterful new fantasy writer on the scene: Jim Melvins series, The Death Wizard Chronicles, creates the world of Triken, where the evil Invictus reigns over a tainted city and plots to take over the world.
Two of six novels have come out so far. Forged in Death introduces the desert king Torg, who collects power by venturing through the portals of death with the aid of deep meditation thus becoming a Death Wizard.
Melvin draws imaginative visions of this place beyond death, but his description of how Torg gets there has at least as much appeal. As our culture becomes increasingly enamored of mindfulness meditation, finding a character who has mastered these techniques feels very timely. And Melvin shows his literary mastery as he weaves elements of potential and transformation; his tale dances among literal shape-shifters and more subtle powers of mind. Things are not what they seem on Triken.
Torg faces plenty of challenges, starting with how to escape an enchanted pit imbued with evil magic where Invictus has trapped him. He gets support from his desert followers, whose fighting skills make them nearly invincible. And a mighty dragon, in the employ of Invictus but seeking wisdom from Torg, attempts to aid him, too.
But his foes have powers of their own, especially the corrupted snow giant Mala, who leads Invictus armies.
Torgs post-pit adventures introduce delightful characters who join his quest to defeat Invictus, carrying us into the second novel, Chained by Fear. Here we meet Laylah, Invictus beautiful sister, held captive for decades by lustful Invictus. Long chapters show the depths of Invictus depravity. She encounters Torg and joins his lively band. Mala, dispatched to catch her, encounters the dragon and falls into difficulties. But the fate of Triken remains at risk as Torgs small fellowship moves into Book Three. Shadowed by Demons will be out by early summer.
Melvin, an award-winning reporter and editor, works at the McClatchy Publishing Center in Charlotte.