15 August, 2012

Review - Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Arki, short for Arkamandos, has been hired on as a scribe by a band of Syldoon, the most feared and treacherous soldiers in the world. Why did he accept this work? Well, it seemed a good idea at the time - he just wanted to get out and maybe see a little more adventure.

This may have also been the worst decision of his life.

As mentioned, the Syldoon aren't the kindest of people, nor are they even that pleasant to have a drink with (as we learn early on). They have some sort of plan, of which nothing is told to their scribe.

And that's part of the genius of this book. It's told in first person from the point of view of Arki. Therefore, as he knows absolutely nothing, neither do we...and yet you still can't help but read on to find out more.

Scourge of the Betrayer [US] [UK] has been making the rounds in the blog-o-sphere and for good reason. Somehow Salyards, a debut author by the way, comes up with this idea to just throw his readers into this situation with no heads up, no idea what's going on and you still can't put the book down.

Arki is a great character too. He really has no clue what's going on and on top of that he definitely doesn't belong amidst a band this bruised and blackened and well, scary.

He doesn't even know how to hold a knife let alone a sword/crossbow/other implement of death. He just kind of bumbles along and luckily has some help along the way.

Probably my favorite character, Braylar is the leader of this whole shindig. He's easily the knarliest of the bunch and he's got a nice set of flails to make it so. In the scale of cubicle-dweller to biker-bar, you have to lean on the side of the biker if you carry flails as a weapon.

Braylar also comes up with some good lines along the way:
[says Arki:] "We're not returning to the road." 
[Braylar] "Very astute. And I'll preempt a few more observations to save you the trouble: the sky is still above us; the sun continues trekking west; our wagon is pulled by horses, not unicorns."

And also: (since I just finished taking the bar)
"Clerics and lawyers are a pestilence on this world, but they do have their uses. A wise man would avoid their company altogether, it's true,..."

Overall, count me impressed. This is a great story that would only be ruined if I gave you too much. The slow build in both plot development and simply details is worth it alone. The brutality of the action and this crew definitely fit this story right alongside the likes of Joe Abercrombie for starters and I've heard Glen Cook as well although I've yet to read him.

I honestly thought I would rate Scourge lower, but there really isn't anything to complain about and I have no clue what I was thinking. The writing's great, great characters, great ending that really ramps things up. The only failing is that I wanted more...which I've been told is contained in the next volume. That's by far the best negative thing a book can have in my opinion. I am now highly anticipating book two in the Bloodsounder's Arc.

4 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended!)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


Jason Z said...

One thing that I really enjoyed about Arki was that while he does bumble through the world of the Slydoon warrior, his character is not totally bumbling. Salyards does a fantastic job of having Arki behave awkwardly without becoming a cliche bumbling, bookish scribe-nerd. I thought his character development was great; what you find out about the players is so rich but at the same time leaves so many gaps -- and isn't that how we really learn about each other?

Jeff Salyards said...

Thanks so much for the great review! I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

Ryan said...

Glad you liked it! This is one of my favorite reads so far this year.

Congrats on the new little ones too!

Bastard said...

I really want to get my hands on this and read it, but need to clean up my reading pile substantially first. I think I'm getting there.