Something clever I'll change later

I like fantasy. The end.
Scourge of the Betrayer - Jeff Salyards As seen on Stumptown Books.

For the right person, this book will be amazing. It has a lot of really great elements - not just blood and guts, but well-choreographed fight scenes, a sentient weapon, a memorable voice, and enough questions to keep the pages turning.

Look, I can handle fight scenes. Girls don't have to be squeamish anymore, and I can enjoy the bad guy getting his head chopped off as much as anyone. But there is something happening to fantasy lately. It is going on a deep, dark, bloody spiral, each new gritty fantasy book trying to out do the last, trying to make the deaths more gruesome, more bloody, and more detailed.

That is simply not why I love and enjoy fantasy. It doesn't all have to be unicorns and happy endings, but there has to be SOME sort of redemption, a light at the end of the tunnel, a reason to keep on reading. It just wasn't there for me in Scourge of the Betrayer.

We begin by following around a scribe, who is studiously recording these events for posterity, and our enjoyment. Immediately the question is raised - is it all true? If it is all from one bloke's point of view, can he be trusted? His work ethic is only ever mentioned as golden, so I don't think an unreliable narrator is a part of it. His voice is completely over ridden in the first part of the novel, as we get to know the people he's traveling with but not him. Eventually he becomes a little more of a person instead of just a scribe, detailing his thoughts, feelings, and decision making processes. I think this made the beginning rather agonizingly slow. I didn't want to hear about the Captain so much yet, I wanted to get to know our intrepid narrator first. Really, the Captain is the main character more than anyone.

The cast of characters isn't that large but I had a hard time keeping them straight. We're introduced to little more than a personality trait and a name and then off we go. The traits would be quickly forgotten as I tried to keep the side characters straight, and they ended up all being basically the same dude to my inner eye. I don't mind this point that much - I think this is just a simple debut author mistake and I'm not going to hold it against anyone, just making note of it.

So then, the characters who stand out are the narrator, Arki, Captain Braylar Killcoin, and Lloi. Arki started off weak but ended strong, but mostly, the Captain is basically the main character.

Now, I actually quite liked the Captain. He was the most fleshed out - he's a little bit crazy, but inspires loyalty from his followers, and has a kick ass sentient weapon. I am a complete sucker for intelligent/sentient weapons. I don't even know why, I think they are SO AWESOME. You can see him carrying it on the cover, it's that mace with the two chain heads. I love that it's not a sword, but a kick ass mace. Its power is totally crazy and original. I want to know more about this weapon!

For a debut, I think this was a strong entry. Do I think he has a lot of room to grow? Well, yes. Do I want to know what happens? Definitely. If you can get past the blood and guts, I think a reader has the potential of LOVING this book. For me, it was just okay, but I will definitely be checking out the sequels.

I will also point out that I have had no hesitation recommending this book to readers at the bookstore I work at, already sending it home with one young man. So you can see I think the series has potential, this one just got lost on me because of the brutality.

eGalley provided by Night Shade Books via NetGalley

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