Soulrazor

Soulrazor - Steven Montano I have simply been blown away by this series so far, the post-apocalyptic world that Steve Montano has created is vivid, imaginative and on finishing have immediately started the fourth novel The Crown of Ash.

After the events of The Black Scar, Cross has left the Southern Claw and now works as a mercenary taking on the most dangerous missions.
His team consist of Danica Black, a witch and former warden of the prison complex Black Scar.
Mike Kane, a tough guy gladiator and former inmate of Black Scar. Both Black and Kane contributed to the Southern Claw victory in the icy ruins of Karamanganji.
Ronan a twin blade yielding psychopathic mercenary with a warriors code of honour, always wants to be in the thick of the action and hates being left behind.
Mauer a Gol engineer and pilot, a dwarf with an uncanny knack for repairing things, he refers to himself in the third person which confused Kane so much during his job interview that he thought he was talking about somebody else. Mauer adds some humour to the proceedings and is a character that deserves a run in the series.
Grissom is a half-doj, over 8ft tall and always heavily armed, and finally his sister Ash, a human witch, tracker and healer with an almost silent spirit.

The book starts with Cross' team undertaking a dangerous mission for the Southern Claw to a Bonespire not far from their hometown Thornn. Intelligence discovered that the Bonespire housed a new Ebon Cities weapon, Cross' mission find and destroy. No one had ever breached the Bonespire before, Mauer remains in the ship and the team gains entry guided by a soulstone to the centre complex.
They are soon discovered and must battle vampires all the way, aided by their spirits the action is violent, intense and incredibly well described you feel you could actually be there.

Cross gains entry to the central chamber and is confronted by a horrific site, a chamber of dead girls chained and suspended above pools of arcane black liquid, they are identical to the woman in the ice from the previous book and the white mother, the revered leader of the Southern Claw. Cross is soon doing battle with two powerful undetectable mages, Cranos Thane a Southern Claw defector and converted vampire and Korva a renegade revenger and soon all hell breaks loose.

The team gain entry to the chamber as do a host of vampires and gargoyles as the fighting escalates. Cross falls into a pool of the dark ichor and here his visions and nightmares start, glimpses of the future and a fight that he must undertake alone.

And this is just the first four chapters, this book just drags you in and does not let go.
As Cross starts to feel the effect of the arcane black liquid, he goes to see Warfield, a witch who deals in the shady black market side of Thornn. She tells him his spirit is sick, the fluid is making her more powerful and less controllable, she tells him about the black blood acting as an arcane conduit used to reanimate and give arcane ability and the vampires are making an army of avatars capable of handling this necro arcane cocktail.

Given there next mission, Cross goes alone across the territory to an excavation project, suffering visions and frightened that his spirit will harm the team.

Danica Black realises where Cross has gone and the team set out to follow, she takes leadership of the team and the majority of the story is told from her viewpoint. This move is definitely good for the story as she is a different character to Cross' good guy hero type. Danica Black comes with alot of baggage and is deeply flawed but this is a great expansion to the story as she steps up to the mark and goes all out to rescue Cross.

The black wonderfully described by the author, a world that has been cleaved, and then fused back together by a blind hand resulting in a melding of dimensions or realities and the explanation of this catastrophic event is finally revealed. This and the act of Cross fighting to save the world is pure genius and I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Soulrazor continues as with the first two books with some fantastic action sequences and there is an element of replay as time lines are continually crossed but it is handled superbly both by the author and from Cross and Danica's viewpoint.
In true modern fantasy fashion not all the major characters survive and its interesting to guess who out of the team is going to succumb to an eventful death first but by the end of the book we develop a core of characters, all look worthy to maintain the high standards set so far in the series.
So onto the next book to find out what's happening with Cross and his team, this is fast becoming one of if not the best series of books I have read.