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Never Die

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  272 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.

Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can't do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his fath
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Rob J. Hayes
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  272 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anime & Asian-inspired fantasy fans
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This review is quite long but the short version is this: Never Die is currently one of the three best self-published books I’ve ever read. If you still need more convincing, read further.

Joining The Mirror’s Truth by Michael R. Fletcher and We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson, Never Die is the third self-published book that currently holds a full 5-star rating from me. If you’re familiar with Hayes’s Where Loyalties Lie, which I assume is
شيماء ✨
Mar 25, 2019 marked it as to-read
Do I need other reasons to read this book beyond the fact that the cover is pretty and rumor has it the story is heavily inspired by Japanese anime?

To quote Hamlet, act III, scene iii, line 92, “no
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anime fans
To people that don’t read much self-published fiction, Rob J. Hayes is here to prove exactly why you should!

This is a great price of fantasy writing. It reminds me of mortal combat, as the characters duel to prove who is the best warrior. And they are quite a memorable cast, pulled together to serve the whims of an undead boy. Cho, the Whispering Blade, is as quiet as she is deadly. Zhihao Cheng, the Emerald Wind, can project images of himself and sneak up behind his opponent to deadly effect.
James Lafayette Tivendale
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, freecopy
I received an uncorrected proof copy of Never Die in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Rob J. Hayes for the opportunity. Contains minor spoilers.

The tale begins with an assault on Kaishi City. The notorious bandit Flaming Fist is searching for his missing daughter and will literally burn, and his accompanying rebel army will destroy anyone in his path until he has found her. On the opposite side of this deadly and bloody ruckus, we are introduced to Whispering Blade (Itami Cho) who ha
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

Never Die is hands down the best book Rob Hayes has written to date, and this is coming from someone who has really enjoyed everything I’ve read from him. It’s been a while since a book was so addictive that it kept me up late into the night because I needed to read just one more chapter, and it was an experience I relished with this book. It’s undoubtedly one of the best Asian-inspired fantasies I’ve read, as well as one of the best self-publi
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“Honour can be lost a dozen times, and regained. Life can only be lost once, and never regained.”

🌟 After 3 years of reviewing books, I developed a hunch for the books I will like. It is like the clinical sense in medicine, something that is gained with experience and trial. I sometimes try to give books chances even if I feel I won’t like them. They mostly end up being disappointing so I learned to follow my gut even
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story is pure adrenaline. From the very first line through its twisty conclusion, Never Die showcases Rob Hayes’ talent in creating interesting and memorable characters while placing them in ever-escalating life-or-death situations. This is a story of vengeance and honor, delivered with the style and speed of an expert katana slash. It incorporates elements of Japanese mythology, including various species of yokai (spirit monsters), death gods, masters of qi, and resurrection, to name but a ...more
I received an eARC of this book from the author.

Now, that’s what I’m talking about when I say I love the Grimdark subgenre. This is it exactly.

Many describe Grimdark fantasy as that which is bleak and full of misery, lacking in hope. But to me, that’s not what it is at all. It might have some of these things on the surface, but it’s much more than that. I see it more as the story of grey characters striding the line between being a hero and a villain. It’s a struggle within and the study of the
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wuxia is violent and anti-Confucian. But also fun.

Hayes delivers a thrilling take on classic principles and conventions of wuxia while casting them in a new light (and in a secondary world based on east-Asian influences). Wandering warriors are mostly, but not fully, alive. Some follow a code of honour, others don’t care about such nonsense. 

A mysterious murdered eight-year-old boy - Ein sets on a mission to kill Emperor of Ten Kings. He can’t do it alone. He needs the help of heroes, preferabl
Nick T. Borrelli
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book surrounds the exploits of an enigmatic boy named Ein who was murdered years ago and is now on a mission from the god of death to kill the Emperor of Ten Kings. We don't know any of the backstory of Ein or why the emperor is his target, but what we do know is that in order to achieve this murderous task, he must recruit four heroes or champions to assist him in defeating this seemingly unconquerable figure. Recruiting these heroes does come with a big catch, you see they have to die firs ...more
Rob Hayes
Nov 08, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Never Die has finally been released upon this unwitting world!
Dyrk Ashton
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to get an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Never Die is The Seven Samurai meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in an action-packed story, inspired by both Chinese Wuxia and Japanese Manga. Drawing from Japanese folklore and a variety of East Asian martial arts traditions, this is an exciting tale of honor and redemption you don't want to miss. One of my favorite reads of the year.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Overall rating = 4.5 stars

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS (Mihir): Never Die is Rob J. Hayes' newest standalone fantasy and the first of his two releases in 2019. Rob was inspired to write this fantasy story due to an action sequence in a video game trailer as well as the innumerable anime movies that he gorged upon in his impressionable years. The world of Never Die was first introduced in Rob's short story in "The Two Faces of War" in the Art Of War: Anthology for Charity. For disclosure purposes, I was an
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rob J. Hayes impressed me with Drones, and Never Die promised to be a fast-paced fantasy, so I dove straight in.

I was not disappointed.

It's a captivating story, and Hayes is a gifted storyteller. I couldn't put the book down. I did not want to put the book down. Tight prose and short chapters make for excellent pacing.

Never Die shows that a simple story can turn into a memorable tale in the hands of a skilled author. Not a word is wasted. The characters are fleshed out, interesting, and their dy
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
* I was sent this for free from the author in exchange for an honest review *

I have to admit that this one is a weird story and although I have really enjoyed all of Hayes' books so far, this one is probably the most unique of them all. This is the story of a young boy called Ein who is gathering Heroes from the land far and wide to work with him to take down the Emperor. The Heroes are all different and they come from all over, and Ein has to bring each one back from the dead to bind them to h
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
This book is the shit!! For years I've been playing Dynasty Warriors, rewatching Ninja Scroll and silently jealous of people with names like Spear that Shakes the Sky or Golden Balls etc and in all honestly it never clicked that it was a complete genre in itself. I'm going to do a full review but right now I need to work on my Screaming Toad technique.
Feb 08, 2019 added it
Recommends it for: fans of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
Recommended to Dustin by: Grimdark Magazine.
A bandit, a Shintei, an enigmatic young boy with an uncanny ability, and a leper.

Near the end of 2018, reviews began popping up in social media feeds. I could be mistaken, but I think it was Grimdark magazine's Mike Myers’ review, that particularly blew me away. From start to finish, his words were beautiful and telling; strange and exotic. They were compelling in ways I never quite expected from a fantasy novel. Quite simply, I knew I had to read Never Die, the sooner the better. Moreover, I c
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
Rob won the 3rd SPFBO that Mark Lawrence runs and though I’ve not yet read Where Loyalites Lie, the book that won him that prestigious accolade, Never Die has a cover that reached out to me and a story that demanded I read it as soon as I could. Let me start by saying Never Die is an incredibly fun and entertaining book. A small boy must kill four legendary heroes and then resurrect and bind them to him so they will kill a man who has brought death and violence to the lands. It’s pretty straight ...more
Mike Everest Evans
Full review originally posted on

The Good: Awesome Asian-inspired anti-heroic fantasy (say that five times fast) with a cast of unusual suspects thrown together in the spirit of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the Dynasty Warriors franchise.

The Bad: During the first and second parts of the book I struggled to feel an emotional connection to the larger-than-life characters, but in the final section each of them lived up to their legends and came to life for me.

Lynn K : Grimmedian
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers of Grimdark, action packed stories, Asian setting Fantasy
Shelves: arcs
Rob J. Hayes has a real page turner in Never Die.
A Tale of Redemption, Honor, and Death.
From the first page it's obvious the reader is in for a Grimdark treat with Never Die. It has a unique premise,  a vivid setting, and characters you can't forget. Even the prologue is brilliant, both sentences.
"Itami Cho woke to the screams of her own death. She remembered it all."
Beginning with Ein, a small boy of perhaps 8 years of age on a mission from a God of Death, and Itami Cho, known as Whispering Bl
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-read
For me, this has been a year of trying new authors. Since January I have read books by 38 authors that I had never previously read, and the latest is Rob J. Hayes. For those unfamiliar with this author, his Where Loyalties Lie was the winner of last year’s SPFBO, an annual contest for self-published fantasy books. I was given a chance to read the ARC for his latest book, Never Die, which releases in January 2019, and I jumped at the chance. This book did not disappoint.

This story follows a myste
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some fantasy books are praised for their worldbuilding. The strange, but sometimes still familiar, settings that evoke wonder.

Others for the quest. The heroic(or not-so-much) purpose of the hero and their allies to face and conquer unsurmountable odds.

And, while Never Die definitely has both of these, I would argue that where it really shines is with its cast of characters.

The premise of the story is brilliant. It's one of those, "Damn, why didn't I think of that?" ideas, and I love it. A young
C.T. Phipps
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, grimdark
NEVER DIE is a stand-alone novel by popular grimdark novelist Rob J. Hayes (The Ties That Bind, Best Laid Plans, Drones). I've always been a fan of Rob J. Hayes and will recommend all of his books to those who want an awesome dark fantasy story. I think he stands up there with Ben Galley and Mark Lawrence for stories that are just plan good. Never Die isn't quite up there with the Best Laid Plans series but is certainly as entertaining as Drones. I also applaud the book for having a non-Western ...more
Reggie Kray
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s motherfuckin Rob J Hayes........
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What starts with a whisper, must end with a roar.

Ein has been given a task by a god of death: gather heroes of legend to end the life of the Emperor of Ten Kings. However, in order to do so, he must kill his companions to bind them to his cause to carry out his will. As they venture across Hosa towards the city of Jieshu, the seat of the Emperor, these heroes not only have to battle each other’s egos, but also dangerous creatures of myth that bar their path. Gathering aid and allies along the wa
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mark Lawrence, the author of the grimdark series "Broken Empire," said of Rob Hayes's writing ability, "(he) is one of self-publishing rising stars." Mark Lawrence is unquestionably right. This story is the epitome of fantasy; it pits dark against light, has epic fighting scenes, heroes that are not quite perfect, and a subtle undercurrent of rye humor.

"Never Die" is centered around Ein. A boy who is not quite right and has been sent on a quest from God, a death God. For Ein's mission to succee
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Rob’s newest novel Never Die, which was in fact the first book of his I have read. I now plan on digging in to his back catalogue, as he is truly a master craftsman, and a prolific one at that.

Never Die is the story of five undead, re-animated heroes, (or in some cases anti-heroes) that have been given a second chance at life by an eight year old Necromancer in order to defeat an evil emperor. It follows the five great warriors: Whispering Blade, The Emera
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review originally appeared over at my link text

Rob J. Hayes won me over with a little book by the name of City of Kings, published last year. The book in question was among my favourite works of grimdark fantasy for the entirety of the year, and it had a lot going for it, chiefly a gripping ensemble of characters, each of whom was possessed with a unique voice, personality and view of the world. I loved the lot of them to death, and if you’ve somehow missed out on City of Kings,
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Full review is here, on my blog!~

Never Die is the story of Ein, who is an 8-year-old boy who was brought back to life by a shinigami and given a mission. He is to kill the emperor of the land, who is quite evil. He’s grown up (to this point, anyway) on stories that his father told him of the heroes of the land, and he knows that if he’s going to do this, he’s not going to be able to do it alone, so he goes out looking for some heroes.

Of course, in order for them to join with him, they have to di
Holly (The Grimdragon)
"Cho was smiling, unable to keep the joy from her face. This was where her heart belonged - however much was left of it - in battle. The moments lived between blades were the sweetest of life. In combat every decision mattered, large or small. A slight turn of a foot and she could trip. A sweaty palm and the blade could slip. Feinting left instead of right could spell the end. It was in those moments, where everything mattered and every decision pushed towards life or death, that Cho felt most a ...more
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Winner of Mark Lawrence's 3rd Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) with Where Loyalties Lie

Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as
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