Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review - Scourge of the Betrayer (Bloodsounder’s Arc, Book 1) by Jeff Salyards (3.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 320 pages
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Release Date: May 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-1597804066
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Bloodsounder’s Arc series
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This is the first book in the Bloodsounder’s Arc series. This is a military fantasy set in a medieval like setting. It was well-written but I had some trouble connecting with the main character.

Arkamondos, Arki, is a bookish young scribe and archivist who is offered a job by the feared Syldoon Captain Braylar Killcoin. By edict of the Empire the Syldoon parties must have a scribe along to record their activities. Arki accepts the job and finds himself drawn into a world of murder, politics, and adventure like he’s never seen before.

This is a well written fantasy set in a medieval like time frame and land. The story starts slowly and follows Syldoon soldiers as they try to politically shake up a region. The reader is thrown right into the world and is left to struggle to piece together what is going on, just like Arki is.

We hear most of the story from the archivist’s (Arki’s) point of view. Arki is very sheltered and untried. He has a bitter history, but finds out that his history is nothing compared to the horrors these Syldoon soldiers have faced. Arki is a bit hard to like and relate to; he is just so naive and so tentative at times. It is interesting to watch how he changes throughout the story though.

The most interesting character in the book is Braylar Killcoin who is a mysterious character with many secrets that are slowly revealed as the story progresses. One of Braylar’s most interesting aspects are the mysterious weapons he fights with that seem tied to his very soul. Braylar is moody and adds a lot of sarcastic humor to the story; he is by far the most interesting character here.

All of the other characters are well done and have interesting backgrounds too. Salyards did a decent job of making the characters easy to distinguish so that the reader doesn’t get too lost in all of the characters that are introduced in a short amount of time.

The world has a lush and detailed history. The writing is harsh and stark and reflects the dark lives of the soldiers well. This isn’t really a complete story but more of an introduction to the characters and the world here.

The second half of the book is full of battle after battle. The pace of the second half of the book makes up for the rather slow and meandering pace of the beginning of the book.

This is definitely an adults only read. There is a lot of intense and graphic violence. Also there is oodles of talk about sex and many sex scenes.

I have some complaints about this book. The first half has a rather meandering pace. I also had some trouble engaging with these hard and military type of characters. Arki was too naive to really relate too as well. This is also more of an intro to the world than an actual complete story. Lastly as a woman reading epic fantasy I was a bit disappointed in the lack of women characters. As in Joe Abercrombie’s books the women in the story are all whores or cheats. They are all treated disrespectfully and it gives the book a very archaic taste at times.

Overall a decent start to a new epic fantasy series. The world is well formed and the story is well written. There are a lot of interesting characters here as well. I did have some trouble engaging with and relating to the characters in this story. The reader is pretty much thrown right into everything without much explanation. Also the first half of the book is very slow and meandering resulting in inconsistent pacing throughout the book. Definitely an adults only read; tons of graphic violence and sex. Those who enjoy military epic fantasy (think Glen Cook) will find much here to enjoy.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge

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