REVIEW: No Place for Heroes by Justin Harnick

In the Known lands, god has become a mere reference point for legality and royalty. Desirables, those few who wield magic, are considered blessed. Those born without this ability are considered less than and subservient. The power to unbarren the lands comes not by prayer but by the will of a few royal families. The Desireable’s control is settled and absolute across the known lands, that is, until an unlikely cast of characters find themselves on the path of rebellion. A revolution is near. There is one problem. Not one of these characters would be considered virtuous. Justin Harnick brings an exciting new voice to grim fantasy in his debut No Place for Heroes.

No Place for heroesNo Place for heroes is told from several perspectives including a street urchin, a mercenary, a drunkard, and an unhinged princess. Despite this sizeable cast, each perspective is distinct. Some of his characters are truly unexpected. The style in which Justin Harnick flips typical certain gender roles makes his characters memorable. All the same, he grounds his characters to his grim reality.

Ester Rayther is a mercenary or should be. In the Known Lands, women are barred from most work and learning any magic. Ester had her place in the Brotherhood of Arms (the largest mercenary company in Cumberland) while her father was alive. When he died, she lost everything. I appreciated how Justin Harnick follows the rules of his world. Because she is a woman, Ester is barred from the brotherhood. She soon realizes no one will hire her at all. Desperate for work, she accepts employment from a mysterious gentleman.

Princess Catalina Woller is not your typical princess, and neither is her story. While she is known as the “Eastern Beauty” she has some not so beautiful personality traits. Her cruelty to Samuel Guidry rivals any sadomasochistic storyline where typically the man takes charge of the relationship. Her boldness to learn and use her magic gives depth to this complicated character.

Characterization is not the only way Justin Harnick spins fantasy tropes. No Place for Heroes has unique worldbuilding. I was captivated by this world where religion isn’t to blame for disparity. I also enjoyed the size of his chapters. While No Place for Heroes is not a short book, most of the chapters are only a few pages long. These chapters are quick and punchy.

I wanted more time with some of the characters, one being Weston Fairchild. Weston is a dangerous man. He made a legend of himself in the Rain wars. Now he has a new chance to kill the King he hates. His character intrigued me, but I wanted more of his back story. I wanted to witness more of his corruption.

Justin Harnick takes fantasy tropes and twists them into something magical on the page. No Place for Heroes is a bold and defiant debut. I am excited to read more from this new author.

Read No Place for Heroes by Justin Harnick

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Carrie Chi Lough

Carrie Chi Lough

Carrie resides in Colorado with her other half and their puppy, Irwin. She is always searching for dark SFF and horror stories to bury herself in.