Never Die by Rob J Hayes

Whispering Blade, Death’s Echo, Iron Gut Chen, Emerald Wind, and the Wushu Master of Sun Valley… Heroes of myth brought together to kill the Emperor. A young boy named Ein has been given this quest by a shinigami, a god of death… we don’t know why, but we know that he’s gonna need a special crew, and he has a great talent in convincing them join him. If they are dead, he reanimates them, and if they aren’t dead, welp, they will have to die. And in that second life Ein gives them, a bond is forged that can’t be broken… This is a quest, a journey, and a mystery all wrapped up in one.

Here’s what I liked:

  • Like all great fighters, the characters have their own styles and weaknesses. And the fleshing out of the characters gives us their egos and maybe a little humility.
  • The ‘Special moves.” Each fighter is equipped with a kill skill that will take down his/ her opponent. An A-B-A-C/ Mortal Kombat homage that I ate up. 
  • Spirits, mystical and foreboding. Chock full of anecdotes to help learn a bit about the mythos of the land and these warriors. Ein was told many of these tales growing up and he relates them to the reader. I love these short tales of lore. 
  • Whispering Blade: The first to be brought back to life and a kind of guide for the rest of the crew. She uses her qi or force to wield a sword named Peace in a deadly fashion.
  • Key questions that make the pages keep turning: Who really is Ein? We know he’s continually described as “creepy” by all who meet him… Why does he have to kill the emperor?

Never Die is an Asian-inspired fantasy that is highlighted with action, key worldbuilding, and quick pacing… an episodic delivery makes this a fun weekend read.

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