Past of a Marked Man by Jennifer Hirtler : Review

If I could not live my life honorably without being reviled, then I would not. If they feared me, I decided, they should have a reason. – Kagnos, Past of a Marked Man

In the lands of Tavigoth, one city sets itself apart as being the city of death; a dangerous city ruled by thieves and assassins, the city of Kuz. But even in a city such as that; there is one man who is more dangerous than the rest. Kagos, the old Lord of Kuz,

Set on a mission to make an account of the life of Kagnos, young priest Mitchell embarks on a dangerous journey, entering a life filled with deceit, murder, and most of all – pain, as his path takes him to find some of the people from the dredges of the past, Jack the Candle Maker – the one who trained Kagnos, and Cherryl, a man who was once Kagnos’s apprentice, and lost everything.

Hidden beneath the rumours of being a murderer with no soul or consciousness lay a truth even more darker — one of pain, betrayal and fear. Kagnos, cursed by Garilect assassins as a young boy after the murder of his parents has lived being constantly feared by those around him. Tortured by a life of reflection and ridicule, and his name whispered in fear across all of Tavigoth, we see his story unfold from his childhood and see the truth of who the assassin really is. A man who did what he must, living by the rules he set, and enforcing them upon his  people, killing the bad — or the worst of the good, and doing everything in his power for those he cared about.

Past of a Marked Man by Jennifer Hirtler shows us a world rife with conflict, blending good and bad until one can’t be told from another through the stories of Cherryl, Vera, Kagnos and Mitchell. As each of their stories grow, and they become more dynamic characters, the moral paradoxes of their actions — while on the surface may seem bad — become reasonable. While it’s easy to judge someone for their crimes, they’re all good people.

While I found the beginning to be a bit slow, and the main character Mitchell to be a wimp (which while understandable, did annoy me), the story was gripping and intriguing from the start, and got better as it progresses. Although at some points it did seem a bit more descriptive than need be, slowing the pace down, Past of a Marked Man was definitely better than sleep and had a satisfying conclusion. With the multiple story lines all resolving in their own ways; it made a good read.

Ms. Hirtler gave me a copy of Past of a Marked Man to review, and I’m glad she did. This was a wonderful and enjoyable read, and an excellent début novel. For me, having a bunch of unusual names (Serit’ha, Tavigoth, Garilect, Phinae, etc) made it a bit difficult to remember everything at first, but by the end most of them got easier to remember.

With Greek mythology, and having Gods and Goddesses taking apart in lives and setting paths, as well as having running themes of forgiveness it sets for an insightful story with a great depth.

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