Reviews

A gritty medieval fantasy full of enchantment … Though this deftly told tale isn’t billed as the first of a series, one hopes there’ll be further adventures of the memorable Durand. (Apr.)

 Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

Keck is a deceptively simple writer. But beneath the surface, he’s arranging a complex plot with real subtlety and skill. His world building, though based traditional elements, is sophisticated and assured.

Paul Witcover, Realms of Fantasy

Combining meticulous detail and grand-scale storytelling, Col’s mud-covered, flea-ridden adventure succeeds in large part by avoiding the conventions and clichés that doom so many comparable fantasy epics to mediocrity.

Publisher’s Weekly (for In a Time of Treason)

 

In the Eye of Heaven is an engrossing read.

The magic of myths and legends coils and uncoils through the plot, feeding on betrayal and threatening the very existence of reality. Mr. Keck is an assured writer with a thorough grasp of a plot based soundly on recorded history and heirloom legend.

Judith Kreiner, Washington Times

Is it too early to label a writer visionary based only on a debut novel? Not when that novel’s as impressive as In the Eye of Heaven, a book as commanding in its own right as Neuromancer and The Summer Tree (the auspicious debuts of Gibson and Kay, respectively).

It’s difficult to reckon whether it’s odd or appropriate that Canada, with its reputation for staidness and dry conventionalism, has produced so impressive a roster of front-rank writers of fantasy and science fiction. To an estimable (though by no means exhaustive) list of such writers as William Gibson, Nalo Hopkinson, Guy Gavriel Kay, Charles de Lint, Robert J. Sawyer, and Karl Schroeder should be added the name of Canadian-born New York City writer David Keck.

The world of In the Eye of Heaven is a surreal feudal landscape rife with living myth and history, where roads are haunted by “the Traveler” and forests are filled with the undying figures of myth and folktale. Keck immerses readers immediately in this reality, largely leaving them on their own to sort out the novel’s complicated mythos and vast set of characters, each with their own histories and motivations. It’s not easy, but it’s tremendously rewarding.

In the Eye of Heaven could have been bloated and cliché-ridden. Instead, Keck seems to have deliberately underwritten the novel, creating a terse, minimalist tone that is both unusual for the genre and extraordinarily effective. This novel marks the arrival of a genuine new talent in the field

Robert J. Wiersema, Quill & Quire

 

David Keck returns to [his] rich fantasy world with an aptly titled tale of court politics and rebellion.

There are no stereotypical quests in Keck’s story; the main characters are driven by politics, love, financial need, desire for honour — and they must fight for all of it.

This is fantasy for grown-ups à la Guy Gavriel Kay and Stephen R. Donaldson…. Keck’s vivid style puts the reader in the soldiers’ boots.

Magic and sorcery are handled subtly, though their effects on the characters is clear. Even battle-hardened knights are superstitious about sleeping outside during certain phases of the moon. And monstrosities like Radomor’s Champion — a rotting giant encased in armour — drive chaos and fear into his enemies.

He has built a firm foundation for a climactic third volume. He delivers a satisfying end to the novel which rings true — a victory tainted by loss — but it’s clear that as the heroes have been wrangling with Radomor, other powers have been left unchecked.

David Jón Fuller

Winnipeg Free Press

 

Built to last. Superb craftsmanship. Sturdy as a pack mule. No, this isn’t the ramblings of an old-timer reminiscing about how things used to be made, it’s a fitting description of David Keck’s debut novel. Featuring no flashy narrative bells and whistles, In the Eye of Heaven is as strong and solid a fantasy to come along in years.

Durand … embarks on the adventure of a lifetime – complete with supernatural omens, centuries-old prophecies, and plenty of dark intrigue. In the words of an enchantress Durand meets during his travels: “the dream descends.”

Keck’s steady and self-assured writing style is a throwback to much earlier times when the primary purpose of writing a fantasy wasn’t to create the groundwork for a series of never-ending rehashed sequels or to market trademarked action figures and lunch boxes, it was to simply entertain and enthrall its readers from the first sentence to the last; and that’s exactly what Keck’s debut novel does. A blend of timeless adventure fantasy à la Lois McMaster Bujold’s Curse of Chalion saga and Arthurian legend-inspired works like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, In the Eye of Heaven reads like it should be recited around a blazing fire in the middle of a shadowy forest. This is the good stuff – they definitely don’t write ’em like they used to.

Paul Goat Allen, Barnes & Noble “Explorations”

The most impressive epic fantasy debut since R. Scott Bakker’s The Darkness That Comes Before.

Eye of Heaven quickly demonstrates that in the hands of a talented writer, even the familiar can be made strange and new.

This unpretentious, quietly exceptional novel reminded me of Gene Wolfe’s The Wizard Knight. Both books take unusual care to be accurate in the details of the chivalric ethos and the down-and-dirty business of medieval combat and are accordingly imbued with a rare aura of authenticity in matters high and low. Both feature magical systems and divine orders derived from Norse mythology then elaborated with sober intelligence and inspired leaps of imagination into frameworks of belief and mystery that are strong enough, and supple enough, to support the complex worlds and characters of their respective authors’ invention. Both look past Tolkien to the early Arthurian romances for their literary models. They relate their stories with deceptively simple artistry and reward readers capable of discerning from hints and clues in the text the slowly emerging outlines of a grander design. But where Wolfe’s religious faith has increasingly come to the forefront of his work, imparting an allegorical tinge, Keck seems content to place his faith in the inherent logic of his story. I eagerly await the next installment of Durand’s adventures.

Paul Witcover, Realms of Fantasy

A fast-moving combination of lance-shattering battle, courtly politics and unfathomable magic.

David Jon Fuller, Winnipeg Free Press

A refreshing change from the dull and predictable fantasy of which we see so much these days.

Cheryl Morgan, Emerald City

A promising debut novel. Durand and his story are compelling…

Natalie A. Luhrs, Romantic Times

 

In the Eye of Heaven is a powerful and assured debut novel, featuring gritty realism, skilled characterization, and compelling storytelling, set against the backdrop of a mythos that has the ring of primordial truth.”

Jacqueline Carey

“The world and… cultures that Keck unveils in In the Eye of Heaven are brutal and raw, and through it all the reader senses a fierce authenticity, a depth of knowledge in the author, assuring that every detail, every nuance, is precisely as it should be. This novel marks the debut of an exceptional series, revealing the mythical depth and resonance possible within the genre of fantasy — a rare feat these days.”

Steven Erikson

“In David Keck’s new fantasy, the gritty reality of medieval warfare is all the more believable against the backdrop of an Otherworld whose magic is rooted in folklore. Caught between them, the hero wins our sympathy.”

Diana L. Paxson

“A very intelligent book, with a hero who starts out as raw and physical as the world in which he finds himself but who proves able to use his mind to get out of the situations his body’s gotten him into.”

David Drake

 

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