The Maleficent Seven – Cameron Johnston
The Maleficent Seven is a take on the Seven Samurai placed in a grimdark fantasy world. Here, a dread demonologist, Black Herran, leads an army that is about to wipe out a continent. As her helpings hands, she has six warrior captains that leads her army, a vampire, a pirate queen, a necromancer, a demigod, an orchish warleader and an alchemist. However, on the night of the final battle that is about to be a sure victory, she leaves her army. Without her keeping things together, the infighting takes the best of them and they end up losing.
40 years later, an army of religious fanatics threatens to overtake the continent, including the small village that Black Herran has made her home. To protect the village, and the entire continent, she will have to assemble her old captains again. Of course, this is something they are not entirely up to, seeing how things ended the last time. Bribes, collusion and threats will be necessary to get them all together again.
The first part of this book is about getting each and every one of the captains to come and fight for her. That will be the necromancers job and we get to follow her travels to find the different characters and get them to fight for a little village that they have no connection to at all. All the characters in this story only serves their own interests, and it is not hard to see that some backstabbing might occur. Through different means and for different reasons, they all agree to come to the small village though.
This book should be taken for what it is, a grime but lighthearted version of the classic seven samurai story. The dialog is witty and the characters really have their own personalities that gets fleshed out throughout the book. The tempo is decent throughout, but picks up speed when the final battle in the village is taking place. This does not feel rushed however, and gets a decent part of the book. There are some hilarious and wicked things going on here, but as a reader I find myself caring for at least some of these awful characters, that does have some redeeming qualities from time to time, although far from all the time and far from all of them.
Gory and fun, and if you take this book for what it is you will have good time. I find it well written and nicely paced, with good and diverse characters that you get to know in a good way. The underlying story is good and serves the shenanigans nicely. I gave this a 4 out 5 on Goodreads.