Yet another BBNYA finalist, and my favourite of the three I read. Fid’s Crusade is powerful, charged, and emotional, with a really intriguing take on the superhero mythos. It takes a similar view to The Boys (graphic novel and TV show) when it comes to so-called heroes, but it’s handled in such a different way, and the author does a fantastic job of creating a world and characters we care about even long after closing the book.
In a world of superheroes, there has to be supervillains. And in this world, Doctor Fid is one of the most powerful and feared of them all. But his actions and motivations aren’t always about destroying the world. No, he makes it part of his work to guide the heroes, to use his resources and intelligence to ensure they remain in line. But there’s a lot more going on than even Fid realises, and as he investigates the latest crime, he uncovers something that even he could never have imagined.
To the heroes, Fid is formidable villain who presents a very real danger. But Fid is more than that, and as we discover through flashbacks, he has a very real reason for his vendetta against the heroes. He is not a good guy, and his portrayal and the characters around him show the dangers of pure ‘good’ and ‘evil’, at least when it comes to people. Like Fid, people are more complicated, and even the ‘villains’ tend to have a moral side in this world. The situations are complex and nuanced, and Fid will be the first to admit not all the heroes are completely bad, but none of are completely good, either.
The novel is very much character-driven, and some of the exposition can be a touch on the slow side, especially towards the beginning. There were, at points, also multiple plot strands to try and follow, but this became much better as they started merging together and the actual main plot became clear.
The character development is really solid, and it is Fid who carries you through, with his unique voice and style. Reiss does an excellent job of ensuring we see the world completely through his eyes, and when something takes him by surprise, it surprises the reader too. We also get some excellent moments of unreliable narration, again handled skilfully by Reiss.
The worldbuilding – from the structures, cities, the specific areas inhabited by heroes and villains, to the characters themselves, how they came to be, and the previous historic events of this world – is excellent. There’s plenty of detail revealed naturally, information given to us as and when we need it, and it makes the world in the book feel that much more real.
This is a vivid world and Reiss really immerses us in it, relishing the discovery of small details and big moments. If you like superheroes with a bit of a twist, especially a more ‘jaded’ take on them, definitely check out Fid’s Crusade. It won second place in the BBNYA, and that placement is extremely well earned.
About the Author
While growing up, David was that weird kid with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He was the table-top role-playing game geek, the comic-book nerd, the story-teller and dreamer.
Fortunately, he hasn’t changed much.
David is a software engineer by trade and a long-time sci-fi and fantasy devotee by passion, and he lives in Silicon Valley with his partner of twenty-eight years. Until recently, he also shared his life with a disturbingly spoiled cat named Freya.
(Farewell, little huntress. You were loved. You are missed.)
Fear not…Two new kittens have since crept into the household and are working tirelessly to repair the hole left in the author’s heart.
David’s first trilogy, the Chronicles of Fid, has just recently been completed; these were his first novel-length projects, but they certainly won’t be his last—he’s having far too much fun!
I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
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