Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: Scourge of the Betrayer

Scourge of the Betrayer
Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Fantasy – Quest fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of quest fantasy, those who enjoy watching someone naïve grow and learn

Disclosure: I received this book by accident – it was a file I received from NetGalley that was supposed to be The Croning, but had the wrong text. I’m not under any obligation from anyone, but am, as always, happy to provide an honest review.

Synopsis: 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.

My Thoughts: This book is told from Arki’s point of view, and as an observant young man and scribe, we’re treated to a much different view of the world that we would have if we were to watch these same events through any of the captain’s team. Watching the events as an outsider was quite fascinating, and I have to give the author props for maintaining that sort of outsider vibe.

It’s probably my weird sense of humor, but I found Captain Killcoin absolutely hilarious. His dryly violent ways, the sorts of statements and comparisons he would come up with – I spent a great deal of time laughing. Admittedly those with a slightly less... jaded and black sense of humor probably wouldn’t find it nearly as funny, but I certainly did.

I believe this is what is considered to be “quest” fantasy, in that a naïve, less-than-experienced “questor” (in this case, Arki) joins up with a more experienced group (the Syldonians), who then teach him how to survive and live more fully, essentially. While this first quest is more or less wrapped up by the end of this book, Scourge of the Betrayer is only the first book in a series, so there is plenty of growth yet to come for Arki. Recommended!

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