Black Scars

Black Scars - Steven Montano After reading Blood Skies, I have to say I was thoroughly enthralled with the brutal, post-apocalyptic world that Steve Montano has created. An event called The Black has decimated the world beyond recognition, resulting in a melding of dimensions or realities. The landscape is a diseased wasteland and a myriad of creatures now roam the earth.

The story opens with the escape of a creature called the sleeper from a liquid grave within a mountain, a powerful entity a Dra'aalthakmar that brings destruction with it.
Once again we follow Eric Cross a young Southern Claw warlock who after losing the rest of his team in the first novel now works alone and we join Cross in the snowy wastelands of the Reach, joined by his guide Dillion and their allies the silent and mysterious Lith nomads.

Cross's mission is from High Command and that means from the White Mother herself, the enigmatic leader of the Southern Claw alliance and he has been sent to learn something from the witch mother Sajai, the leader of the Lith tribe. In the distance they see smoke from a wreck and Sajai finally tells him to 'follow and you will find' and this it seems is what they have waited weeks for to happen.

The smoke is from a wrecked airship called the dreadnaught and the occupants are mercenaries, Revengers from the Black Scar a vast and secure prison complex, and with prisoners in tow. The story kicks off here along with the action up and we have the introduction of some prominent new characters as Cross's mission to find the woman in the ice becomes ever more crucial.

The undead vampires are much more prominent in Black Scars and we get a true feel for just how brutal and destructive life is as we see for the first time inside the Ebon cities, home of the undead and the prison city of Krul. This was the stand out part of the book for me as there seems to be no escape from the prison city and the despair is evident at the cruel treatment.

Cross is still learning to live with his new spirit and her reckless tendencies, the only warlock or witch ever to lose a spirit and be granted another after the events of the first book. His physical and mental journey evolve as he is forced to step up from warlock to prisoner and gladiator and finally to a true leader and a saviour.

I gave the first book 5 stars but this is even better, we have the same descriptive prowess, the world is expanded with the introduction of the Vampire city Krul but the biggest improvement was the new characters that look to have a future in the series and the skilfully described action sequences of which there are many. The book feels more polished and complete, as the world is given more depth, the characters are bigger and the pace faster as the story effortlessly flows from vivid descriptive chapters to all out brutal action.