*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Killing Fog
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Publication Date: March 1, 2021
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Survivor of a combat school, the orphaned Bingmei belongs to a band of mercenaries employed by a local ruler. Now the nobleman, and collector of rare artifacts, has entrusted Bingmei and the skilled team with a treacherous assignment: brave the wilderness’s dangers to retrieve the treasures of a lost palace buried in a glacier valley. But upsetting its tombs has a price. Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night, has long been entombed. Now Bingmei has unwittingly awakened him and is answerable to a legendary prophecy. Destroying the dark lord before he reclaims the kingdoms of the living is her inherited mission. Killing Bingmei before she fulfills it is Echion’s.
This is quite outside the realm of what I normally pick up to read, but it was a nice change of pace from my usuals. The Killing Fog is a fantasy novel with a very historical vibe to it. Bingmei is a part of a group of mercenaries are warriors who are employed by the rulers of various settlements to protect and serve in various ways. They are trained in fighting school and they become like family to one another. One ill-fated job sparks the revival of a being so evil that it threatens to extinguish their lives as they know them.
Echion is a dark lord of legends and myths. His story is one of repeated death and terror. This supernatural being brings nothing but terror and wrath upon the world, expecting loyalty from those who fear him and murdering those who deny him. Bingmei’s destiny may just be to destroy this deadly being, however she is just an orphaned girl–a nobody, really–with good combat skills and a strong moral compass. She can’t wrap her head around the idea that she is the answer to saving her world.
Really getting into this book was a challenge for me in the beginning, a fact I attribute to reading something out my regular scope. However, once I formed a real connection with the characters, I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know how this book was going to end. It does have a bit of a slow start, which could deter some readers. Perseverance pays off in this case though, as you’ll be hooked by the end. It’s also the first book in a series which means there’s more goodness to come. What I really enjoyed about this book was that even the more minor characters were really fleshed out and full. The reader gets a really good sense of the community of the ensign (mercenary groups) and the more peripheral characters. Each has a place and a purpose in the story.
Would I pick this book up on my own? Probably not, but I would encourage other readers to check it out. I say this because it’s definitely got more of a mass market vibe, which I do try to avoid for the most part when purchasing for myself. It’ll make a great airplane book once we can all fly places again.