No Land for Heroes (Legends & Legacies #1), by Cal Black
Mildred Berry is down to her last four bullets…
In a wild west where the only things more dangerous than outlaws are dragons, Deputy Berry is struggling to protect her town and keep her family fed. As a last resort, she robs a train for ammunition only to find that the cargo she needs so badly was owned by war hero Frederic Rousseau.
The same Frederic Rousseau whom she served during the Amelior Civil War. The same Frederic Rousseau she’s been hiding from for the last five years.
Millie knows a secret that could ruin Rousseau’s life, and he’ll stop at nothing to keep her from telling the truth. With her violent past bearing down on the life she’s built for herself, Millie has to decide how far she’ll be willing to go to keep her town safe.
My Review (5 out of 5 )
Disclaimer: I received a copy in order for the book tour. This hasn’t influenced either the score or the review.
No Land For Heroes is the debut novel from Cal Black, and the first instance in the Legend & Legacies series. As somebody whose last experience with Fantasy Western was The Gunslinger, I didn’t really know what to expect from this book; but after finishing it I can say it’s one of the most solid novels I’ve read, hooking from the start and with plenty of powerful moments.
No Land for Heroes starts with a really high action point, showing us how Deputy Berry and her band of women are robbing a train, in order to get supplies so they can protect their town from whoever threatens it. Just from this moment, we are establishing some common points that will resonate throughout the story, such as that Mildred and their band will do anything to keep their people safe. Robbery could have gone well, but here comes the fantasy to ruin everybody’s plans, as let just says a dragon made this relatively easy operation an absolute disaster.
And this robbery helps to introduce us to the rest of the cast of characters, the ones in the frontier, and the ones from the city, Goldman, and Hal, which are sent by the proprietary of the shipment, Frederic Rosseau; the old «owner» of Millie (in a figurative sense) and the responsible of terrible acts. The investigation of Goldman and Hal marks the first half of the book, being used as a sort of way to join the story of Millie with Goldman, presenting more aspects of the world, while also introducing a new conflict.
Just in case, spoilers will appear in this paragraph, so in case you want to avoid them, I recommend you jump to the next one. The first act of the story is settled once Frederic Rosseau discovers who is behind the robbery, and decides to eliminate all the witnesses and people who could bring light to a secret that could end his whole career. And here comes probably one of the inflection points of the book, and probably one of the scenes with more feels and more strength of the whole book. When they know Frederic and his army plan to raid the town, they decided to fight, as despite not going for somebody in concrete, they could be the ones next time. Millie accepts her past, and what she had done in the service of Frederic Rosseau during the Amelior Civil War. Recovering her old equipment just in order to defend her beloved, accepting she was the Ghost and the Butcher of Bayou; it brings to my mind the scene of John Wick recovering his old equipment. It’s the same dramatic charge, the same emotional impact. And with this, the second part of the book starts, and epicness enters this Western Fantasy.
Not going to talk much more about the plot, but seriously, the second half is just hit after hit. And now I would like to stop on how well depicted things such as PTSD or the past haunting you are depicted. With great use of flashbacks, we comprehend how Millie really feels and why she had been hiding from Rosseau these five years; and how she has to fight her inner demons if she wants to succeed.
Amelior is a really interesting world, perfect for depicting this Fantasy Western, and which is heavily based in post-Civil War America, and the conquest of the West. Twisting some elements, and making use of fantasy elements such as orcs and elves, she makes a convincing portrait of some aspects that usually can be overlooked such as slavery and racism. It has its own lore, as its own civil war and how the use of magic has influenced the world.
In summary, I was not really convinced of the idea of Fantasy Western, but Cal Black made all my doubts disappear. No Land for Heroes is a really brilliant novel, a strong debut, and something I didn’t know I needed. Pistols, war witches, trains … it has everything it needs. The only question I have is: when we will have the sequel?
Cal Black is a Canadian writer based in Ontario who enjoys writing about messy people who make an effort to improve their situation. Cal has a short story published, was a semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest, and won a Wattpad Watty award in 2019 for Fantasy. After realising she prefers to write novels instead of short stories, Cal shifted gears and is now writing gaslamp fantasy, cosmic fantasy, and has a bad habit of ‘trying out new genres’ when already full up on projects.