By R.S. Penney
Desa Kincaid Bounty Hunter is the first volume of a trilogy by American indie author R.S. Penney.
The novel is set in an alternate world, characterised by a western-like landscape of dusty, remote villages and towns, where people go about their business and tend to beware of strangers. As the title suggests, it tells the story of bounty hunter Desa Kincaid, a fearless, lesbian heroine from the remote land of Aladar. She has spent the last ten years hunting down super-villain Bendarian, a fellow countryman guilty of despicable crimes against harmless people, in an attempt to dominate and unleash immense “supernatural” powers, to be used to his advantage.
However, Desa is no ordinary bounty hunter, as she’s endowed with a magic power known as Field Binding, the ability to give objects the power to absorb and release different types of energy (heat, light, kinetic energy), a skill she’s developed back home, where this technology (not witchcraft) is very well guarded and not shared with the outside world.
While she is a bit of a loner and usually prefers to hunt on her own – except for her mighty horse Midnight who never leaves her side – she, mostly unwillingly, picks up a diverse group of companions along her quest: the young, inexperienced Tommy, who soon becomes her student, fellow field binders Marcus and Miri, and the beautifully mysterious clairvoyant Adele.
Despite a slow start, the book soon turns into an action-packed pursuit, filled with unexpected twists and turns and epic fights, as well as hints of romance and disappointing betrayals. What I found particularly refreshing was the presence of such a strong female lead character, tough and determined, but also tender and insecure, so human and so extraordinarily goddess-like at the same time.
R.S. Penney is an outstanding writer, his ability to mix many different genres (dystopian, science fiction, fantasy, romance and western) in a single book is second to none. His detailed yet dynamic descriptions are excellent, drawing the reader right in the middle of the action and never falling into exposition, with well written and compelling dialogues.
The only scenes I found particularly challenging to process are the lengthy battles: while they constitute a core element of the narration, they are particularly complex, too detail-rich and sometimes lacking rhythm, making it hard to keep up with the picture in one’s head, especially for who’s fairy new to the genre.
Overall, this is a great read suitable to any audience – no need to be a fantasy aficionado. If you are not a big fan of cliff-hangers though, I suggest you purchase – at least – two volumes of the saga at the same time, as you’ll be left wanting more when Book One ends.
Desa Kincaid Bounty Hunter is available to purchase at: https://amzn.to/3ICMAoq
About R.S. Penney
Rich Penney grew up in Stoney Creek, Southern Ontario.
His love of science-fiction and fantasy started with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. His first novel Symbiosis, part of the Justice Keepers Saga (14 volumes, available on LINK) was published in 2015.
Penney is a global environmental sustainability activist and a proponent of social justice and equality. He has given talks in Toronto, Athens and Brisbane on these topics (source: next chapter.pub).
In his Amazon profile, Rich says about his writing: “I’ve always been an advocate of diversity in fiction. I remember noting, at the age of sixteen, that one big problem in epic fantasy is the fact that all the characters are white. So I try to create a cast populated by people of all genders, ethnicities and orientations. If you like genre bending stuff like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll love my books.”