Righteous Fury
by Markus Heitz
reviewed by Adam Armstrong

History is written by the victors, or so the saying goes. We don't ever get to see the other side's tale. The nations that were conquered and vanished we see through the eyes of those who fought against them and won. Often times the losers are vilified. 

We all see ourselves as the hero in our own lives…almost all of us. 

Some people are truly evil--and they relish in it.
Sinthoras and Caphalor are two warriors of the älfar, or dark elves. Both are talented artists, warriors, and are extremely cruel. A chance meeting makes the two immediately dislike each other. 

The reader gets a look into the älfs' lives and see that they are almost complete opposites: Sinthoras is ambitious, egotistical, and reckless where as Caphalor is reserved, methodical, and humble. But the two are about to be forced to work together. 

Heitz draws us into the world of the älfar but it is very hard to get to like either of his heroes. Both are unusually cruel for viewpoint characters and it takes a few chapters to get used to the älfar's strange view of the world.
The Inextinguishables, brother and sister älfar that have ruled the race for centuries, summon both warriors to their chamber where they pair the two up on a mission. Sinthoras and Caphalor are to travel together to find a mist demon. The demon alone has the power to break the magic of the Stone Gateway and open up the world of Tark Draan. 

The Inextinguishables have wanted to take control of the land for some time but could not get past the Stone Gateway. Pairing up the two opposites could give the siblings access what they want.
Sinthoras and Caphalor immediate clash and run into problems as they advance to their goal. Both älfar want to be the one to make the deal and receive the glory, though Sinthoras yearns more for this. The two bicker and run into a series of trials they have to undertake on their way. The biggest source of conflict is Sinthoras's runaway slave, Raleeha. Sinthoras blinded her in the opening scene for a trivial matter but her infatuation with him drove her to follow him on his quest. In a fit of rage, Sinthoras gives her to Caphalor.
Through much trial and tribulation, the two return triumphant. But regret and betrayal pushed the two together in friendship and then to battle against the Tark Draan. The älfar amass a mighty army to break through the Stone Gateway. Sinthoras and Caphalor push through to battle the creatures on the other side. They call the creatures the groundlings, but others might know them better as the Dwarves.
This was an interesting book that is a prequel to the events in Heitz' Dwarves series. As stated, the author took the unusual choice of having the viewpoint characters evil. I'm not saying that they were bad guys to those that fought them. They were just evil. The älfar seem to relish in how horrible they treat other races and even each other. It takes a long time to get behind these characters for the reader. 

There is a trend these days to see things from the bad guys points of view (Breaking Bad, Sopranos, The Shield), but these stories develop some form of anti-hero. In Righteous Fury, these guys are just wrong.
The trials the two run through felt like a homage to Tolkien--and a bit like filler. Since it was hard to care about the main characters, you kind of root for them to get killed. I think Heitz was attempting to expand on the characters and humanize them a bit through these trials. It doesn’t work, but it does flesh out their world more. And it introduces us to some really interesting adversaries, must notably the Gålran Zhadar.
Just because the viewpoint characters weren't pleasant doesn't mean the book was bad. In fact, Heitz' writing pulls you in as he creates a realistic world. The viewpoint characters aren't much to cheer on, but the world building and its trials are fascinating. And seeing how the other races view the älfar and how they interact is worth reading the novel for.
The älfar history is laid out either through pages from the Epocrypha of the Creative Spirit (a history book within the world of the novel) or through conversation between the characters. There is just enough given to really make your imagination kick into high gear. Also the älfar's customs such as using bones and blood of a fallen foe or friend to make art is really interesting as well.
If you are a fan of The Dwarves series this is a must. If you're not you may want to start with the main story line first. And you have to be willing to overlook a fault, or twenty, with the main characters.