The Blackened Yonder

Planar Lost

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
340 Pages
Reviewed on 03/08/2024
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

J. Gibson is a dabbler in dark fantasy fiction.

In his spare time, he enjoys reading, writing, and watching.

When he has no time to spare, he ends up doing these, anyway.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Blackened Yonder is a work of fiction in the dark fantasy, adventure, thriller, and horror subgenres, and it forms the opening novel in the Planar Lost series. The work is best suited to the adult reading audience. Penned by author J. Gibson, the story follows the intertwining paths of various characters grappling with a mysterious plague of Undeath sweeping across the land. From the priest Garron to the young Athenne and the clandestine group known as the Saints of Aetheria, each character navigates a world teetering on the brink of chaos. What results is an action-packed and exciting work of dark fantasy that leaves readers gasping and frantically turning pages to find out what happens next.

Author J. Gibson has crafted a work that is rich in worldbuilding, presenting a vivid and immersive fantasy setting filled with religion, magic, and political intrigue. I loved this author's dedication to crafting a fully realized world, which made it all the more realistic when you meet the central characters and see how their attitudes and actions are shaped by the culture and politics around them. Readers will be drawn into the well-paced mystery plot and the subtly-laid clues surrounding the undeath plague while also appreciating the complexity of the characters and their interwoven storylines. This all levels out to offer moments of tension, natural plot exposition in the dialogue, and strong plot twists that amp the action up at just the right moments. With a perfect balance of action, adventure, and character development, Gibson promises an engaging and thrilling read for fans of epic fantasy and darker fantasy stories alike. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend The Blackened Yonder as your next brilliant dark fantasy series to lose yourself in.

Ana-Maria Leasa

The Blackened Yonder: Planar Lost, Book One by J. Gibson is a dark fantasy piece of work filled with magic, mystery, adventure, and horror. In a world where religious beliefs are strong and magic and machines—"the creatures of spark and bolt"—exist, the lives of Athenne, Father Garron Latime, and the members of the Saints of Aetheria and Matrian Church become more complicated. The Undeath start to appear in remote parts of the territory, like a plague, devouring all the living. With this new nightmare arising, how will the lives of Garron and Athenne change and interact? Will Athenne's choice of joining the Saints of Aetheria be a good one or not? And what of Garron’s choice in trusting the members of the Ennead regarding the horrifying incident from the Vale of Erlan?

One of the aspects that I liked about The Blackened Yonder by J. Gibson is the different perspectives presented in the story, especially those of Garron and Athenne. By doing so, J. Gibson enabled me to familiarize myself with and better understand the characters, their stories, and what reasons and beliefs drove them when certain paths and situations arose. One example is Athenne's desire to live and fight for a better place where everyone could use their power and have the freedom to study what they like. The story is fast-paced, with extensive work done on the characters' backgrounds and story construction and description, allowing me to create vivid images of the scenes and characters.

Frank Mutuma

In The Blackened Yonder by J. Gibson, things were deteriorating. It started with the Erlan massacre, but things were getting worse with the disruption of supply lines and possible starvation. There was a real threat of rebellion and military action, which could result in mass deaths. The church had put a restriction on common magic, and even Father Garron, who had witnessed the massacre firsthand, could not help but wonder if the restrictions had anything to do with the unleashing of the Undeath plague. As this unfolds, an underground organization called Saints of Aetheria has a recruit called Athenne and is planning something massive against the church. Will they succeed in their fight against the restrictions imposed by the church, and are their fight and actions justifiable?

I love books with strong female characters, and The Blackened Yonder by J. Gibson did not disappoint. I loved the characters of Athenne, Archbishop Delacroix, and other female characters who have considerable power in the organizations they serve. I found the novel to be thought-provoking, and it got me thinking about issues such as religion and its impact and role in society. Gibson also used suspense to great effect, which made me look forward to subsequent chapters as the complex storylines unfolded. The events and places are vividly described, which helped me create a mental picture of what was happening. Readers will also appreciate the excellent narration and the well-developed characters, which add to the overall readability of the book. I am looking forward to reading something else by Gibson.

Rabia Tanveer

The Blackened Yonder is the first book in the Planar Lost series by J. Gibson. Garron Latimer, a priest in the village of Erlan, was terrified out of his mind when the village was attacked by the undead who decimated the whole village. All he could do to save his life was run away to the capital to survive and get help. On the other hand, Athenne wasn’t happy with the way things were going, and to make a difference, she joined the Saints of Aetheria. The Saints of Aetheria were going to use forbidden magic and bring about a revolution. However, nothing could have prepared Garron and Athenne for what happened next. Both were doubting their decisions and questioning everything they ever believed. Were they on the right side of things?

An epic fantasy that will take you on an amazing journey, The Blackened Yonder is an incredible novel. It has the perfect mixture of religion, horror, faith, action, thrills, mystery, and magic in a tale of two incredible characters. The story was fantastic and incredibly well-developed. Author J. Gibson crafted an outstanding world where magic, horror, and faith coincided. I was intrigued by the Saints of Aetheria and what they did. Athenne was not sure of her purpose with the Saints, while Garron was questioning his faith. Their development was incredible. I had so many questions as each chapter revealed something new about these characters, and J. Gibson made sure I had answers to all of them by the end. The narrative was filled with intrigue, and I loved how the author handled the darkness and created a fantasy world with characters to whom I could relate. Need I say more? I loved it!

Asher Syed

The Blackened Yonder by J. Gibson is a fantasy epic set in a world where magic is suppressed by the government and two individuals find themselves entangled in a conflict that threatens to consume their beliefs and allegiances. As dark forces ravage villages and leave a revenant scourge in their wake, Father Latimer must deal with haunting visions and challenges to his convictions. Fleeing to the capital, he seeks answers while encountering secrets that shake his faith to its core. Meanwhile, Athenne joins the radical faction of the Saints of Aetheria in a bid to overthrow the powerful Church and unleash forbidden magic. Yet, as she digs deeper, doubts about the righteousness of their cause surface, risking betrayal and destruction. When turmoil, duty, and defiance collide, both Latimer and Athenne must confront themselves to bend a world on the brink of chaos.

I knew going into The Blackened Yonder by J. Gibson that there was going to be a femme-forward storyline simply based on the cover, and Athenne was a character I wanted to meet. She's a powerhouse. We see her evolution of purpose as the story progresses, but what she possesses is greater than this. Athenne understands theology and combat philosophy, and she has an intellectual curiosity and analytical mindset. Through Father Garron Latimer, we see the impact of power, morality, faith, and health on the human condition and reflect on a larger philosophical question. As for peace, that's something he might come to in a costly way. The world Gibson builds is rich, complete with its own political structure, religious beliefs, and societal customs. The standout for me is the descriptions of the Ennead, the Imperial Sovereign, the Silver Knights, and the Priory, all of which offer insight into the hierarchy and power dynamics. Overall, this is a solid start to the Planar Lost series, and I intend to read the next. Recommended.