In Teyth’s young life he has known pain, deprivation, terror, and very little else. But his lonely existence changes overnight when his stepfather sells him into the service of the village blacksmith. Tayth finds that he is safe, warm, and even loved under Cairsten’s roof. And he meets Diarmuid, the older smithy boy who will become the love of his life.
Teyth and Diarmuid are forged into men under Cairsten’s guidance, but even he cannot protect them from all the darkness in the world. A shadow looms over their beloved village and, as it begins to consume all they hold dear, Teyth and Diarmuid must follow different paths. One buries himself at the forge, desperate to create something that will last long after he ceases to draw breath. The other scrambles to save their friends and family the only way he knows how. But each man is incomplete without the other and they discover that together they are stronger than the evil threatens their world.
At its core, Immortal reads like a fairy tale. It comes with an evil Prince, a magic forest, and brave heroes. But like most of the original tales penned by The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, Immortal also has blood, pain, and terrible sacrifice. Yet Amy Lane’s beautiful lyrical writing style and a host of memorable characters make this often dark novel a pleasure to read. The plot is woven through the experiences of love and the life shared by Teyth and Diarmuid. They are the heart that drives the narrative forward and around which most of the action centers. They are both powerful characters that are all too human in their behaviors and all the more relatable because of their frailties. Diarmuid is the more selfless of the two men and his devotion to both Teyth and the village make him heroic, without appearing impossibly larger than life. He is a straightforward man, practical and staid, yet far from simplistic. He has a wealth of patience but he seems more fragile than Teyth, more prone to hurt. Far from detracting from his character, these traits make him realistic and I couldn’t help but adore him.
Teyth is an artist rather than a true smithy and his passion to create is often at war with his passion for Diarmuid. There is no doubt he loves the other man, but Teyth is easily enslaved by the demands of his art and only his connection with Diarmuid saves him from being wholly consumed. His life’s works, a dual set of friezes wrought from precious metal, are described in elegant detail. We see them through Teyth’s eyes and come to understand the truth of him by understanding his creations. They are beautiful and Teyth quite literally gives his blood to make them, but they are also a product of his joy and grief and, as a result, more substantial than mere metal.
Perhaps the most interesting character of the book is the forest that lies near the village. It is a living, breathing thing filled with old magics and an almost human attachment to the village. It is a dangerous, wild place that protects those it loves while possessing a terrible danger as well. In many ways I felt the forest mirrored Teyth’s metallurgy–violent and vicious at times, but beautiful and good as well. The villagers are also given meaningful and purposeful places within the wider context of the story. They never clutter the scenery or threaten to overshadow Teyth and Diarmuid. Instead they remind the reader that no action comes without consequence and whether they labor over a forge or in a field, they are bound together, for good or for ill.
Immortal is for all intents and purposes a near perfect story. My only irritation came with the last part of the book. Up until this point the plot was well paced and the conflicts encountered were resolved with a great balance of detail and fluid movement. After an act of selflessness, Teyth is broken and left for dead about a quarter of the way from the end of Immortal. We’re told that months pass as he heals, but for such a traumatic event I felt the full scope of his recovery was rushed and given short shrift. This same hurried sense applies to the book’s conclusion. Though these events are not devoid of emotion or characterization, they seem to lack the natural pacing that most of Immortal possesses. As a result, I was left feeling there should have been just a little something more to balance the ending out with the rest of the novel. This is essentially a minor issue and applies to only small portion of the narrative.
I’m a huge fan of Amy Lane’s and there are very few of her books that I haven’t absolutely adored and Immortal is no exception. Save for a mild pacing issue towards the end, this is a fantastically rendered story of an extraordinary passion that echoes beyond the mortal world.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.