I received a review copy of Song by Jesse Teller in exchange for an honest review. This is the first book in The Manhunters series, which takes place in Teller’s fantasy world Perilisc, a world resplendent with lore, history, magic, and mystery.
This was my first venture into the works of Jesse Teller, and I was very impressed by both the scope and depth of this story.
Song (named after the city that is central to the plot) tells the story of Rayph Ivoryfist, former court wizard of Lorinth and legend in his own right, as he tries to thwart the assassination of the king. The Black Cowl has attacked Rayph’s prison Mending Keep, releasing a horde of dangerous inmates, including the infamous assassin Julius Kriss. Rayph gathers a band of allies, the Manhunters, who set out to protect a king who appears to detest Rayph.
Song chronicles both the main arc that details Rayph’s entanglements with entities sinister, mystical, and sometimes downright chilling in his quest to save the king, as well as the travails of his former student, Konnon, a man haunted by the death of his wife and his daughter’s illness.
I adored Rayph, who is a very capable and noble hero with an intriguing and mysterious background. But even more, I enjoyed the (sometimes) darkly mystical allies Rayph surrounds himself with. I got the sense that there is a very long and detailed history behind Rayph and his world, and that I am merely brushing the surface of it. In truth, Song does not feel like the first book of a series. With strong hints at a nuanced backstory of vast complexity, Song feels like a book much further along in a sprawling series. Teller’s world of Perilic bears a strong resemblance to The Song of Ice and Fire, in the intricacies of its worldbuilding, diverse assortment of characters, and especially the various story arcs that diverge and finally intersect with satisfaction. I enjoyed many of Teller’s side characters, especially the darker ones, who I found fascinating.
There is certainly a morally gray element that shadows both Teller’s world and its populace, including Perilic’s hero himself.
Song is amazing. I am anxious to journey again into this fully-fleshed world. Within this relatively short fantasy novel lurks the promise of a much deeper story I am anxious to get to know, like a mystery that begs exploring. My only criticism is that I would have liked this tale to be a bit longer. I would like to see more of Rayph and his former student, Konnon. Teller’s world is stunning in its complexity, and I am eager to discover more of it.
My thanks to Jesse Teller for sharing his remarkable talent with me. My life is richer for it.