Review: Out of the Deep by T.J. Marquis
Out of the Deep is a revel of heroic feats and expressive settings. This sequel to How Black the Sky exceeds the first by building upon its strengths and delivering even more action, intriguing worldbuilding, and that brawly theology. The Hero’s Metal series continues with this strong second installment!
This review contains minor spoilers.
Here at the Periapsis Press blog, we only post reviews of works we recommend, so you already know I enjoyed Out of the Deep. I encourage you to check it out!
Out of the Deep Publisher Description:
Pierce and the heroes of Gorgonbane defeated the subterranean conqueror Kash one year ago. Since then, monster infestations have increased a hundredfold. It’s good for business, but bad for the citizens of the reluctantly joined nations.
When a strange new entity crashes a dangerous extermination mission, everything falls into chaos.
Revelations about the world and whispers of a new form of magic litter the path from doom to an unexpected beacon of hope.
What is the Underlord Kash’s prophesied threat? Can Gorgonbane save the continent from destruction? And who will Pierce have a crush on next?
Find out in Out of the Deep – Hero’s Metal, book two.
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Heavy Metal Action
The Hero’s Metal series’ characteristic action has not been tamed in this sequel. The sequences remain intense and full of cool people doing cool things. Gorgonbane, our group of heroes inspired by heavy metal bands, is at the top of its game, coming through again with more cool weapons, magical talents, and showmanship.
However, the action has gotten punchier, with more streamlined descriptions. It comes across as more concentrated, with fewer “solos” in the middle of a battle.
The pacing is further improved by the single storyline, as opposed to the collection of stories featuring each character in How Black the Sky. These were fun, but as I noted in that review, the retrospective had the unfortunate side-effect of reducing tension. Now the heroes are free to simply act, now that we understand who they are and where they came from.
Still Plucky Pierce
Pierce, who has always been my favorite, moves into a more secure protagonist role, although he is still not the sole point-of-view character. He does more acting and less watching, without losing the respect for the others that was so important to his character.
I really liked the incorporation of Pierce’s family into the adventure. It is always refreshing to see a hero who hasn’t been cut off from his roots. His mother provides some great story complications. His relationship with his father forces Pierce to enact his heroic values on a more personal level, calling him to growth as a son. None of the more domestic characters stand in the way of the action, or reduce the hero’s cool factor.
Falselight as Antagonist
The Falselight make intriguing antagonists. Their initial revelation was chilling, and their abilities developed from there to provide serious problems for the characters as the story progressed. This forced the characters to come up with creative solutions.
I especially liked the inclusion of their “master” as a faction unto himself. It made for an interesting added dynamic that made the Falselight at once more predictable and mysterious.
The setting continues to fascinate, with some mysteries revealed and more introduced. As we explore the world, it continues to baffle even the characters who live there. I found this built curiosity and interest even when the characters were traveling.
I absolutely loved the sun as a tentacled creature that literally (in the literal sense) crawls across the sky. Talk about turning an idiom on its head!
The Glorious Paths
The religious element of this series is great. I was extremely impressed by the characterization of the Blacksmith in How Black the Sky, which embraced God’s sovereignty. I noted that the idea of salvation was not touched on and the morality was rather hazy, but I am pleased to report that Out of the Deep tackles these issues in their turn!
Axebourne had an after-death experience in the first book, returning Gandalf-style to aid his allies. In this second installment, he functions as a prophet of sorts, revealing forgotten aspects of God’s will—such as mercy and salvation.
The characters have been in a bit of an Old Testament situation, trusting the Blacksmith while working to follow his revealed will. With greater revelation, Pierce and the others show humility and faith in their efforts to understand the new concepts and incorporate them in obedience.
This proves once again Marquis ability to visualize for his reader a world in which God might reveal Himself differently and yet consistently with His character.
Book Two Conclusion
As is common, the conclusion of this second book did not resolve the conflict with the Falselight, instead setting up the next installment. However, the climax was satisfying. Pierce’s near-victory, stolen only by an actor outside of his control, satiated my desire for a “win” against the Falselight.
Furthermore, the promise of more Hero’s Metal to come was not unwelcome. I eagerly await the next book in the series!