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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ibenus by Seth Skorkowsky (reviewed by Lukasz Przywoski)

Official Author Website
Order Ibenus over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Dämoren
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Hounacier
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Seth Skorkowsky
Read Building The Perfect Revolver by Seth Skorkowsky (guest post)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Raised in the swamps and pine forests of East Texas, Seth Skorkowsky gravitated to the darker sides of fantasy, preferring horror and pulp heroes over knights in shining armor. When not writing, Seth enjoys cheesy movies, tabletop role-playing games, and traveling the world with his wife.

FORMAT/INFO: Ibenus is 410 pages long divided over twenty-four numbered chapters. The narration is in the third person limited. This is the third volume of the Valducan series. It can be read as a standalone. 

The book is available in e-book and paperback formats. It was republished by Crossroad Press in 2018. Cover art and design are by Shawn King

CLASSIFICATION: Ibenus is a character-driven dark urban- fantasy book with immersive world-building and in-depth study of demons lore. 

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I like the concept of a hidden world of monsters and of a small group of people that hunt them. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy theValducan series so much. The fact it’s awesome helps as well.

Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone although it’s rewarding to read them in publication order. 

The series follows an order of modern-day knights that hunt demons. When someone is possessed by a demon, they take the form of a monster, such as a werewolf, oni, or wendigo. The only way to kill a demon is by using a holy weapon. Each knight is bonded to a unique weapon. It’s a bond more intimate and strong than any human relationship you can imagine. An absolute and pure love. Not surprising, as each weapon is inhabited by an angel who chooses his protector and bonds with him/her.

Dämoren followed Matt Hollis, and Hounacier Malcolm Romero. In Ibeneusthere’s a wider cast of characters but the story focusses on Ibenus protector - Allan Havlock. I liked Allan in Damoren a lot and I was happy to learn he would get more spotlight. Nothing prepared me to what Seth Skorkowsky had in mind for him, though. 

Allan takes an apprentice - a disgraced police detective Victoria Martin who survived demon attack. Victoria belongs to an internet group intent on exposing Valducans. At first, she’s driven by the anger but when she learns more about the order she starts to desperately play both sides to not only protect herself but also Allan, whom she has begun to love. Ibenus, however, has other plans for the couple. 

Ibenus is my favorite book in the Valducan series. It kept me glued to the pages for hours. Allan and Victoria’s relationship is convincing and watching remaining Valducans through their eyes gave me a fresh perspective on the remaining knights. I mean, those guys are lunatics. Imagine a band of folks entering buildings with medieval weapons, burning houses and claiming there are demons around us. Would you easily believe them? 

Apart from Victoria’s storyline, my favorite part of the book was the bonding between a German accountant and Umatri. It felt intimate, convincing and beautiful. I work as a HR Consultant and I have to admit that Valducans’ recruitment techniques are well-targeted and take into account a given weapon’s needs and preferences. Lakrasus always chooses dancers as his protectors so he’s displayed in the dance center, Umatri was a bit of an enigma and Valducans decided to display it close to places frequented by soldiers. However, it was an accountant, not a soldier that has proven worthy of this amazing, undulating blade. Umatri may be one of the coolest weapons described in Valducan series so far. 

We continue to learn more about the monsters. They’re not romanticized or tragic. They’re pure evil. Some of them share a history with angels. If you remember Anya from Damoren, Ibenus gives a satisfying closure of her arc.

In Ibenus, the Valducans are going after Mantismeres - the giant insectoid demons that spawn doll-faced carapaced minions, which lure in their unwitting victims by emitting sounds that imitate crying or giggling babies. Imagine meeting something like that in the dark. Would you run to help it? Probably. And that would be your final mistake.

CONCLUSION: The story is well-paced, fully immersive and hard to put down. If you’re into darker urban fantasy or simply enjoy reading about demon hunters try Valducan series. It’s brilliant.



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