Nether Light follows Guyen, a young biracial man who is shipwrecked upon Sendal shores. Upon arriving in the city proper, he and his twin brother Yemeylan are thrown into Sendal’s working caste system, where people are given employment based on their Talents.
This oil-light epic fantasy series feels like walking through the world as Daniel in Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent. This dark world, lit by harsh sodalamps and adorned with the 18th century’s iconic tricorne hats, hosts a decaying magic. Citizens are inoculated with a Concoction at birth to Bind them against a creeping pandemic that causes madness and turns them into creatures (the Unbound) that resemble the Grunts that haunt Daniel so.
Guyen, who is of Krellan and Sendali descent, struggles to survive in a country where his heritage is looked down upon. Upon getting his Binding tested to receive his Sendali citizenship, it is discovered that he is Purebound: he is naturally resistant to the maddenings. He is shipped off to the Devotions, where he studies to become a Bindcrafter and seek the cure for Yemeylan, whose Binding is weakening and risks losing his citizenship and mind.
Magic system nerds will surely be intrigued by Faze, the magic Guyen stumbles to learn alongside his other studies. Although Nether Light doesn’t dive too deeply into a hard magic system, it is hinted that there is surely more to come in additional Bindcrafter books.
Should you pick up this book?
This book will delight those who love delving into a fantasy world, Nether Light will be sure to satisfy. It is a slow burn novel that takes its time to reveal the true plot, which binds Guyen into politics, fantasy science, and the fate of the Binding. It is a leisurely stroll through the world as told through the eyes of a young foreigner.
Readers who enjoy The Stormlight Archive and who long for additional Flintlock fantasy will enjoy Nether Light. The slow pacing and exploration of Guyen’s daily life early on in the book will deter some readers, however, through Guyen the reader learns of the world and what is at stake.
Nether Light is a delightful independent book by Shaun Paul Stevens that catapults it above many other independent fantasy books by the virtue of its impressive worldbuilding. You can buy it here from Amazon.
For those who prefer a faster-paced story, but who are interested in the Bindcrafter universe, readers may check out Deliverance at Van Demon’s Keep, which follows a Ranker named Kiprick. Kiprick must rescue miners who are trapped with Unbound, who have infiltrated the mine.