This is my second Hayes book and boy does he write some powerful characters. Never Die is full of complex, endearing, violent, and heroic characters.
“It takes a lifetime of evil to be a villain, and only one moment of good to be a hero.”
Ein is on a mission. After being brutally slain by his own father, a Shinagami has charged him with killing the Emperor of Ten Kings. At only 8 years old it’s not a task he can complete on his own, so he travels the countryside collecting heroes. The only downside is that they have to die first, so he can bring them back under his control.
Ein’s crew are a mixed bunch. Cho is the leader of the group. Also known as Whispering Blade, she has a somewhat magical sword that sucks in the souls of those she kills. Killed trying to protect a town, she is the first Ein brings back. She is a fierce warrior and although she hasn’t always stuck to her word, she is determined that this time will be different. She will protect Ein, she will do what must be done. Zhihao sees himself as a villain, he doesn’t understand why Ein brought him back, but the young boy swears there is a hero inside of him. He has his own magic and is known as Emerald Wind. Bingwei Ma, Chen Lu and Roi Astara round out the group. The dynamic within the group was pure gold. There was some butting of heads and egos, but watching the friendships slowly develop over time was fun.
The story was fast paced and full of action. It was very much a quest tale, moving from one action scene to another. Whether it be collecting new heroes, escaping the vengeful spirits or even navigating their own place in the world, there was always something happening to our characters. I loved every part of the adventure. With an Asian inspired setting, the monsters, gods and magic were very different to the garden variety fantasy. According to the internet a Shinagami is a Japanese spirit, so I’m assuming the rest of the monsters, weapons and fighting styles are inspired by Japanese history or culture. (Please don’t shoot me if I’m wrong).
Never Die is written so well, it’s hard to put it down. I think Hayes stands out from a lot, with his ability to delve into the brutal aspects of human nature and what people are willing to do to get the job done. He takes his characters to the edge of their humanity. How close can they go before they become the very monsters they are hunting? Also he does it quickly. This book isn’t what I would consider long at 274 pages, yet he packs a hell of a punch. He doesn’t waste words. Rob Hayes is quickly becoming one of my favourite grimdark authors. He is up there with Mark Lawrence.
This is a must read. There are so many people I interact with on Insta and Twitter who would love this book. I want to shove it in their faces and scream “READ THE DAMN BOOK, IT’S FUCKING BRILLIANT.” So much stabby fun.
I received an ebook version of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. My opinion is my own.
Get your own copy – Amazon
Title: Never Die
Author: Rob J. Hayes
Released: 29th January 2019