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Return to the Black Gate

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Clone Smiley has vanished. No one knows where he has gone. With the dark of the Origin-verse now awake, something moves across the multiverses, destroying all it touches. One by one, each universe falls, its defenders shattered. Soon, it will reach our world, and then there will be nothing left. From the far corners of the multiverse, a desperate group gathers, the only hope of saving existence itself now resting on the shoulders of killers, psychopaths, prophetesses, and a broken man. Return To The Black Gate is a story of loss and unlikely love, of the battles we fight to hold onto what little we have, and a vision of an end-times never-before-imagined. Where Gods of the Black Gate was a crime-thriller, and Beyond The Black Gate was a sword and sorcery epic, Return To The Black Gate is a harrowing war-story; a tale of despair and heroism in the face of unimaginable horror.

314 pages, Paperback

Published January 21, 2020

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About the author

Joseph Sale

51 books43 followers
Joseph Sale writes dark fantasy and epic poetry. His first novel, The Darkest Touch, was published by Dark Hall Press in 2014. He currently writes and is published with The Writing Collective. He has authored more than ten novels, including his epic series The Book of Thrice Dead and his dark fantasy trilogy The Illuminad He grew up in the Lovecraftian seaside town of Bournemouth.

He edits non-fiction and fiction, helping fledgling authors to realise their potential. He has edited some of the best new voices in speculative fiction including Ross Jeffery, Emily Harrison, Christa Wojciechowski, and more. His short fiction has appeared in Tales from the Shadow Booth, edited by Dan Coxon, as well as in Idle Ink, Silver Blade, Fiction Vortex, Nonbinary Review, Edgar Allan Poet and Storgy Magazine. His stories have also appeared in anthologies such as Lost Voices (The Writing Collective), Technological Horror (Dark Hall Press), Burnt Fur (Blood Bound Books) and Exit Earth (Storgy). In 2017 he was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ prize.

He is obsessed with Attack on Titan and Community.

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Profile Image for Ross Jeffery.
Author 24 books248 followers
March 31, 2020

This was the most beautiful farewell - stunning prose, woven around an exquisite story and a beguiling cast of characters! Epic and powerful...

Sale has been able to deliver a story like a gothic master - his story is unique but forged with the remnants of other greats (possibly inspiration) I mention here the greats such as Philip K Dick, JRR Tolkien, HP Lovecraft and Robert A. Heinlein. But don’t get it twisted - this is totally original, and breathtaking.

There is a large cast of characters but each is fully rounded, story arcs flying all over the place and I really enjoyed the structure of Sale’s chapters that an action in on chapter would lead on to the next chapter through another characters observation. Showing a thread running through the whole narrative.

As with all of Sale’s work (and I’ve read a lot) his world building is second to none - it’s mouth-wateringly brought to life, you can see it all with glassy eyes, fall into its depths before growing tired and being pulled down by the undertow and power of his story and you can’t help but succumb to his brilliance.

This book and this series deserves your attention - and the ending, I almost shed a tear, almost! A lot of time has been invested in this series and I was sad to see it end, it was like saying goodbye to some good friends!
Profile Image for Steve Stred.
Author 70 books459 followers
April 10, 2020
** Edited as review is now live on Kendall Reviews! **

When I first read book one in this stunning trilogy, ‘Gods of the Black Gate,’ I almost immediately messaged Joseph begging and pleading for a sequel. I was stunned. The synopsis was unique but the story was elevated to such a level that I needed more.

When book two arrived, ‘Beyond the Black Gate,’ Sale showed his propensity for world creation and utterly destroyed the readers eyeballs with the characters he introduced. When book two ended, I had a sorrowful sob. ‘Maybe this is it?’ I thought. Will we ever get complete closure on Smiley, Pheona an crew?

A trilogy as immersive as this can be soul-crushing on a writer. Did Sale have it in him to step into the world one more time – his mental health be damned?

The answer here is – YES! A resounding yes!

What I liked: Look, you need to have read books one and two to read book three. So, if you haven’t – please stop reading and dive into ‘Gods of the Black Gate,’ one of the best sci-fi/horror books I’ve ever read. Learn these characters, keep tabs if you must, because by book three you will be so involved and enthralled with each and every one, you’ll be crying your heart out for an ending for each. Luckily for us devotee’s – Sale does just that. This book is an ending. Expect death, gore and carnage, but also expect your emotions to be crushed.

What I didn’t like: I will say this – other than ‘Save Game’ (which was also amazing) I haven’t read anything else by Sale. So, if you are wanting to dive into this trilogy, it may be also beneficial to have read his release ‘Nekyia.’ It is referenced at the opening of this one a bit and I think I would have seen more of the tie-ins if I had.

Why you should buy this: As I previously stated – if you are looking for a stunning sci-fi/horror trilogy – this trilogy is the one for you. Head to the start and dive in. If you’ve read the first two – this is an absolute must and the ending is just heartbreaking but so, so fantastic.

Adored this one.
Profile Image for James Sale.
25 reviews
May 30, 2020
The question that literary critics will be asking in 50 years time is: which of the three Black Gate books is the best? They form a coherent whole, but they stand separately. At the end of BG1 I thought, how can this have a sequel? Then, in reading BG2 I found out how. But at the end of BG2, I thought, ‘Well, that’s it!’ How can there be a BG3? And yet here it is.

BG1 is futuristic, yet realistic, horror; BG2 extends the horror into the mythological realm; and just when you think Joseph Sale cannot go further, we find BG3 which I can only categorise as neither futuristic nor mythopoeic, but only as apocalyptic. Truly, this is an amazing work.

Like BG2 I found myself, initially, not fully on side as the story begins, inevitably, with the ‘set-up’. OK writing, I thought, but this isn’t going to have the same impact as BG1 and BG2. Jeez, how wrong I was. By the time I was a third into the story, I was absolutely hooked, and then again Sale had turned this into a compulsive page turner: I had to finish it.

Perhaps one of the reasons why I didn’t find it initially ‘clicking’ with me is because BG1 and BG2 have this incredible character, Craig Smiley, who is conspicuous by his absence in BG3. That is, conspicuous until he actually does appear - a sensational scene, sublime in its conception and in its execution. More remarkable still, it begins a sequence of scenes all of which have their own incredible power, vivacity, and imaginative brilliance. The plotting is extraordinary, the characterisations deftly handled, and the denouement totally satisfying. I have to say here that Sale must resist the tendency ever to try to open the Black Gate again - this apocalypse is it - story told!!! Stop now!!! I can’t stand anymore tension!!!

It’s a total roller-coaster, but for anyone loving real horror, real emotion, and real story-telling this is a work of art of the highest order. I really hope that Joseph Sale gets thousands of followers and readers who ‘dig’ this incredible cosmos he has created.
Profile Image for Iseult Murphy.
Author 25 books109 followers
March 26, 2020
There is a feeling of things ending that pervades this book from the first page, which isn’t surprising as it is the last book in the trilogy.

More philosophical than its predecessors, almost a new genre once again, Sale bravely opens the book without Craig Smiley, an important character in the other two books.

The writing is masterful, flowing smoothly through the rising and falling action and plucking the readers emotions with ease.

Everything comes together in a surprising, yet fitting, finale. I am undone by this ending, but in a good way. Gives me excuse to start reading the books all over again.

Highly recommended. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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