Great New Darken Realm Novel

Bruce Von Stiers

Have you ever put off reading a book? Perhaps even putting it at the bottom of a huge pile of books that you said you’d get to in a week or two? And then have that couple of weeks stretch into a couple of months and several more until that book has been gathering dust for a year?

Well that’s just the sort of thing that happened to me. I had received an advance reader’s copy of an upcoming fantasy adventure novel. The publisher wanted an advance review so that when the book was published they’d have a nice review of the book. Well, the above scenario happened and they didn’t get that nice advance review. Which is truly a shame and puts a pretty nasty mark on my record as a reviewer. It is doubly shameful as the novel is really, really good.

The novel that I’m speaking of is Prophet of Sorrow. It was written by Jason Schimschal but the cover lists him just as J. Schimschal. This is the fourth novel in the Darken Realm fantasy adventure series that Schimschal began with The Devil’s Utopia.

A former writer of technical and training material for a pharmaceutical company, you might think that these novels would be stuffy and boring. But they are anything but stuffy and boring. The series has vivid characters, both human and animal, and plot devices that fit perfectly in a post apocalyptic setting.

The two young men who were introduced in the first novel, Jared and Tani are in this new one. But only in the very first part and last parts. Bookends so to speak. Before I forget, the title of this new novel is Prophet of Sorrow. It was published by the same small publishing house as the others in the series. That company is Fossil Ridge Books and is based in Thornton, Colorado.

As the novel opens, there is a contingent of Biogtech troopers and Reaper Kai priests who are trying to find a nuclear warhead buried deep in an abandoned military installation. The Biogtechs are robot warriors. The Reaper Kai priests are evil, doing the bidding of a supreme dark power aimed at destroying the world.

But what the evil priests and robot troops don’t realize is there is a guardian for the underground complex. The reader eventually learns that this guardian is a huge battle robot with the name of TOM 23. They try to fight TOM 23 and lose. Badly. Another wrinkle is the rat king Lavosi. He is after the warhead too. Lavosi also suffers the same fate as the Reaper Kai and the Biogtechs.

The reader learns that TOM 23 has somehow amassed a huge amount of knowledge. He also had been befriended by a soldier at one point. Now TOM 23 is wondering why he was abandoned. Even though that soldier friend had died centuries before. You see, the war between the Reaper Kai and the rest of the world had been going on for several centuries. So it stood to reason that a being such as TOM 23 would outlive all of its human companions.

Now Jared and Tani come into the picture. They are members of Nova 7, a small team dedicated to finding the warhead and bringing it back to their people. The other members of Nova 7 are the mercenary Banion O’Neil and the former Reaper Kai priestess Mineera.

Trying to locate the warhead leads Tani to find TOM 23. But things being the way they are, Tani ends up a prisoner of the robot. There are further plot elements involved here that I won’t go into.

Moving on to the main body of the novel, the author switches up people and locales. From an underground military facility, the story moves to Stonen. This is the capital city of the Iron Kai people. It is hidden within a mountainside. There is only one way in or out of Stonen, a tunnel entrance. There are different levels of this underground city and a caste system to boot.

The Reaper Kai has had spies in the city creating dissent and casting doubt upon the leadership. This causes a rift and the emperor of the Iron Kai people to be tried for treason. But there are other elements that help make this a solid and very believable story line.

When the Reaper Kai launch a full scale attack on Stonen, all seems to be lost. Or is it?

A third character gets a small role in the novel. He is Globulus, a giant hippo who is heir apparent to a kingdom in the Darken Realm. He has been imprisoned by the Reaper Kai with the help of Sister Nightshade. She was once a great friend and trusted ally of Globulus. Her wanton need for power drove her to the evil Reaper Kai leader Brother Feral. Globulus has been featured in previous novels in this series.

At the end of the novel the Nova 7 team makes another appearance.

With each succeeding novel, J. Schimschal steadily builds the saga of the Darken Realm. He provides vivid characters and a landscape ravaged by nuclear war and ruthless beings. Colorful lead characters are both human and mutated animals. Mystic and evil powers that are essential pieces of the fabric of the saga have distinct and real spiritual aspects. Here, in this fourth novel of the saga, the author brings the story line closer to a positive ending. At least one would hope.

I have really enjoyed the Darken Realm saga. Prophet of Sorrow was as entertaining as the previous novels and definitely moved the timeline along for a final showdown between the forces of good and evil in the Darken Realm.

I am just sorry it took so long for me to read the book. It deserved far better treatment than to be stuck in a pile of unread books that gathered dust.

Prophet of Sorrow is available at and other online and traditional book retailers.

To learn more about Prophet of Sorrow and the Darken Realm saga, visit


© 2011 Bruce E. Von Stiers