The Four Territories by Stevie Collier
Genre – Dark Fantasy
About the Book – The Dark Assassin Book One
“In a world divided into four territories, each with their own unique sun, color, race, and culture, Esh is born and abandoned in the cruelest of all. The red territory of Reah. A land in which every day is an absolute struggle for survival.
One day, an elderly man discovers the boy mortally wounded on the side of the ash-filled streets and takes pity on him, a kindness unknown in the land of Reah. Then, using violent and unorthodox training, he teaches the boy the skills necessary to endure the harshness of the territory. Skills of a master assassin. Combat. Sorcery. Alchemy.
All is going well until a dark and forgotten energy finds its way into young Esh’s body. Wreaking havoc on his mind, it threatens to drag his spirit into darkness.
If Esh doesn’t use all his mental and physical strength to combat the ancient energy then he will surely be destroyed.” – Publisher’s Blurb
The Review – The Four Territories is Darker than Dark
We’re going to take a moment to poke fun at this book, not because we didn’t like it, but because we did. The series is called The Dark Assassin. We will repeat, The Dark Assassin. As opposed to the light assassin? The happy assassin? What about the assassin with a heart of gold? Okay, we’re almost done, but seriously, the series title is a bit on the nose for a dark fantasy series. It may as well been called Neck Stabbers and Breakers.
One final gripe. To authors who are writing a series: your series title should be as descriptive as your book title, make it original and memorable. The title of The Four Territories is solid, it makes sense in the context of the book and is descriptive of a plot element. All the Dark Assassin tells us is that there are assassins, which are basically a dark fantasy staple. One final note: there is a serious amount of neck stabbing in this book. The Four Territories is not for the faint of heart.
More Imaginative than the Series Title
Our fun aside, Mister Collier has written a tale that mixes imagination and darkness in an unbelievable and beautiful fashion. The characterizations are fine, though Esh provides the majority of it, and it feels most of it is just to keep the plot going. Xep is an ok character but when didn’t find Xep to be very likable, and there are many forms of likable, so we were a bit disappointed with that.
However, the colorful and imaginative world of The Four Territories makes up for the lacking supporting cast. Mister Collier takes so much of what we see in our everyday lives, the darkness in humanity, and amplifies it for his uses. This creates relatable situations, understandable motivations, and a darkness that is not only familiar but serves as a reflection of our world. This is on point for what true dark fantasy is meant to be.
Of course, the darkness is a bit heavy-handed at times. Like a black icing on a bleak cake. That being said, this is a dark fantasy so we can forgive a little zealotry in the delivery. Overall, fans of the genre will love The Four Territories, and we did too.
The Rating – Solid B
What else can we say? It’s good. While Mister Collier’s style and writing will undoubtedly improve over time, he possesses a rare and gifted imagination that will take him far. The world he has presented in the pages of The Four Territories is one of the best we have ever seen, and we have seen quite a few in our time. While the characters could use a little work, and the plot a little focus, this proves to be a promising first outing for a new author. We look forward to seeing how Mister Collier improves and evolves in the future. As well, we look forward to reading more of his work in the years to come.
Do you love dark fantasies? You can find this one here.