Prelude, Book 0 of the Borderlands series, is comparable to Grimmdark meets Bronzepunk—two subgenres I’m unfamiliar with. Loving fantasy, I was excited to try something completely different.

Between the forts, brave fighters, derring-dos, and circle-the-wagons vibes, this novella reminds me of the old frontier movies. (Quite a compliment, since I’m a big John Wayne fan.) The further the company travel, the more dire the danger. Will they all make it back? Will any of them? The vivid descriptions of the land and the monsters encountered paired with the first person, present tense point of view makes for an intense sense of urgency that works extremely well.

Gull caught me by surprise a couple of times with interesting plot twists. (Kudos, sir.) The world-building is top notch and the characters well fleshed out. The ending is a cliff-hanger, so I am anxious to read Book 1. I found Prelude a riveting tale of survival, conquest, and heroism and strongly recommend it.