Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium by Clive Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Tortured Souls is set in the 'first city' of Primordium, a city of degradation, corruption and violence. On the periphery of this story is the ancient being known as Agonistes, for two thousand years he has walked the earth, making God's art from flesh or so he proclaims. A transformer of human flesh, if a supplicant comes to him, lost to hopelessness and desperate for revenge. If he agrees to the terms set, then Agonistes will remake the supplicant through a combination of art, magic and pain in the image of their monstrous ideal.
The story starts with assassin Zarles Krieger, whilst on a routine political murder ordered by the Emperor himself, he completes his nefarious task and then as he arranges his victim for maximum effect he is interrupted by the daughter of his victim, Lucidique. She implores him to look what is going on around them and Zarles Kreiger is persuaded. He seeks Agonistes in the burned desert with dreams of making Primordium a republic, singlehandedly and ending the dynasty of an Emperor.
Lucidique's meeting with Agonistes is under slightly different circumstances, kidnapped she is killed in view of the flesh transformer (that’s not one of those metal ones), her vengeance will be sated and she is changed almost beyond recognition.
Both become abominations in the eyes of others but it doesn't stop them entering into an unlikely affair that directly results in a shifting of power in Primordium. The relationship between the scythe master and his lover is almost a thing of beauty, amidst the carnage and depravity, brutal and ferocious yet undoubtedly loving. Lasting beyond death, yet even though she sought him out, Lucidique was never to cross paths with Agonistes again.
Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium is a beautifully vivid and passionately dark tale, I recommend the audio and that's probably the most cost effective method of enjoying this story. It's not on kindle and I think was only published by Subterranean so it’s a costly one if you want the book.
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