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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Dark Lords Stir is a work of fiction in the epic fantasy, adventure, and supernatural subgenres, and forms the first novel in the Evil Arising Cycle series. It is intended for the general adult reading audience with some scenes of war-like fantasy violence and was penned by author S. M. Doll. We follow the exploits of the central protagonist, Daniel Manslayer, a man with a price on his head and very little in the way of lasting relationships or emotional ties to the world around him. In the Lands of Chaos, Daniel thinks he may find freedom, but what transpires is a new adventure that will involve him more deeply than he could ever have imagined.
Epic fantasy often walks a fine line between its grand, sweeping vistas and world-ending plots and the intricacies of the individual characters who make up the bigger picture. Author S. M. Doll has achieved an excellent balance in a relatively concise fantasy work, enmeshing these two elements so that each continually informs and develops the other and makes you feel like you’re entering a fully realized story world. I enjoyed the presentation and development of Daniel, from his flaws and vulnerabilities to his awesome potential as an action-packed hero in a high-stakes game of life and death. The atmospheric writing also offers a superb cinematic background to the action, which only serves to keep readers turning the pages faster and getting more and more immersed. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Dark Lords Stir for fantasy fans everywhere seeking an accomplished new novel, and indeed series, to get into.