Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review of Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Many tales are told of the Syldoon Empire and its fearsome soldiers, who are known throughout the world for their treachery and atrocities. Some say that the Syldoon eat virgins and babies–or perhaps their own mothers. Arkamondos, a bookish young scribe, suspects that the Syldoon’s dire reputation may have grown in the retelling, but he’s about to find out for himself.
Hired to chronicle the exploits of a band of rugged Syldoon warriors, Arki finds himself both frightened and fascinated by the men’s enigmatic leader, Captain Braylar Killcoin. A secretive, mercurial figure haunted by the memories of those he’s killed with his deadly flail, Braylar has already disposed of at least one impertinent scribe . . . and Arki might be next.

Archiving the mundane doings of millers and merchants was tedious, but at least it was safe. As Arki heads off on a mysterious mission into parts unknown, in the company of the coarse, bloody-minded Syldoon, he is promised a chance to finally record an historic adventure well worth the telling, but first he must survive the experience!
A gripping military fantasy in the tradition of Glen Cook, SCOURGE OF THE BETRAYER explores the brutal politics of Empire–and the searing impact of violence and dark magic on a man’s soul.

Before I get into specifics of the beast that is Scourge of the Betrayer, let me start off by gushing half my blood supply out of my partially severed head from craning my neck to read this in the wee hours of the night just to boast about how good it is. Sorry if that last statement was a tad on the graphic side but if you are going to pick up this book, it's things like that that are waiting for you.

I don't read reviews prior to reading a book. I wait till after I finish them. Sure, I will scan a few lines, blurbs and what have you, that a base network of people and places that I have strategically, scoured and suffered putting together to achieve the necessary niceties that my fellow reading buddies I relate to well in reading choices have bled their hard pondered thoughts onto the world. {That may have been the longest run-on sentence in the history of run- on sentences but ... I am a rebel. And you blessed reader are just going to have to like it!} Sure this work is in the tradition of Glen Cook with his military fantasy, it has the grit of battle you will find in a Dan Abnett or Joe Abercrombie book. But it is not by those people either, this is Jeff Salyards and you would do well to remember his name. There are some works like this, that although good, don't quite hit the mark. I tell you now folks ... This is what dead center looks like. I cannot be certain as to the level or the amount of time and effort that went into this story, but if I were to guess my money is on a great deal. And although it isn't the expansive (at least not yet) titles like Sanderson, Jordan or Martin put out, rest assured that Salyards knows his tale frontwards and backwards. It's tight writing and does well with pace, plot and some other "p" word that I know I am forgetting to throw in there.

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The fighting / battle / action sequences and narration of our main character (Arki) during said scenes are spot on. The mechanics of each are honed, well oiled and bite with their own brutal reality.

We all read things differently based on a thousand different variables that I cannot begin to get into here. So in the end it's simple, read what you like. I have been watching horror, reading horror, bizarro, fantasy, stuff you wouldn't even think can come out of somebody's head; see Carlon Mellick III, and yes in some cases experiencing these same things with shock values that are pretty high up on a scale that doesn't even exist. So yeah, when someone said, "It's gritty" or "that was some scary shit, dude". Well, I kinda gotta just nod my head, hope they don't catch my crafty ability to roll my eyes without actually rolling my eyes, and think I am going to have to experience it for myself and see. 

There ... Yeah ... That doesn't even cover it. Let me tell you that this is a new story that has not been done before. The dynamics of our characters are complex and meaty and I like it! Just the contrast alone between our young scrive and his charge, is a bear trap in waiting for good interesting dialogue. There are twists and surprises in this book that took me totally off guard. I laughed out loud several times and even once put the book down totally dumb founded and said... "That didn't just happen, did it?

In conclusion Salyards has created a well of opportunity here for the next couple volumes in this series. Seeing how the series name is Bloodsounders's Arc, we may be in for more than a trilogy and that does nothing but make me smile. There is a lot of directions this could go and I can't wait for the next installment. I can't wait to check out Braylar's sister. Wait that didn't sound right. That was almost like, "Hey Killcoin, would you mind if I, ahhh checked out your sister?" Probably, got me killed just now. No, it's going to be awesome. Thank-you Jeff, for a great, great read. I will be recommending this to all my literary friends and probably even ones that are not.

5 out of 5 Bloody Sword Swinging Syldoons Singing Sweet Songs over Sour Wine.

This book is definitely deserving of some MM.
WARNING strong language used in video above, please refrain from watching unless you are over the age of 200.

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