Death’s Conquest is a heart pounding fantasy adventure with a very real cast of characters. I found that the book follows a quest-like narrative, meaning that there is danger, adventure and a good deal of fun at the heart of the book.
My favourite part of Death’s Conquest was the contrast between the fantastical elements, such as the fearsome Shadows, with their glowing red eyes and surprisingly sassy dialogue, and the more realistic sections. The novel is about the battle against a terrible and powerful enemy of mythical power and status, but also about the intricacies of politics, relationships and family life. This blending of fantasy and realism is reflected in Webb’s writing: even though this novel draws heavily on the fantasy genre and its numerous tropes, the narrative has a pleasingly mimetic surface, and one can see how the characters are grounded in the real world of inter-personal relationships, even if their surroundings are purely imaginative.
I’m also going to take this opportunity to comment here that Webb’s world-building skills are excellent. Everything in the novel was vividly realised and painted in beautiful detail. I loved all the little things, such as how the wearing of cloaks was an accepted fashion in the novel! These small facts really helped to build the world up as a whole.
Webb’s writing is also a joy to read – the action scenes in particular were very fast paced and tense, and Webb strengthens these with bursts of scattered humour. Some of the dialogue had a tendency to be a bit predictable, such as at the very beginning of the novel, when characters gave explicit details about their current situation, “this is my first time on guard duty,” and “you’ve been here two weeks.” One would assume that these details would have been known by all involved in the scene, which subtly draws attention to the story’s status as fiction. This is an interesting technique that I think Webb could have perhaps acknowledged more and gotten more mileage out of.
Overall, however, this book was a very fun read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a light fantasy adventure with some moments of darkness thrown in for good measure!