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Archive for the ‘Jeff Salyards’ Category

scourgeScourge of the Betrayer, by Jeff Salyards

published in 2012

where I got it: received review copy via the author (Thanks Jeff!)

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I read plenty of fantasy, but not much in the way of military fantasy, so Scourge of the Betrayer was more than a few steps outside of my comfort zone.    Young Arkamondos (he goes by Arki) is a trained scribe. Used to living in the city and recording the daily activities of bored merchants, Arki thinks he wants a more interesting gig. The Emperor has decreed that travelling bands of Syldoon Warriors must have a scribe, and our story begins when Arki finds himself hired by Captain Braylar Killcoin.

The rest of the troop make it no secret they don’t want Arki around, that they think he’s a worthless city boy, and a liability to their missions. The only member of the group who shows Arki any friendship is Lloi, a fingerless hedge-witch. She’s an outcast of her tribe, so she knows exactly what it’s like to be seen as an outsider.  Braylar might not come right out and say it, but he desperately needs someone to observe and witness what happens, just not for the reasons the Emperor thinks.

For a skinny little book, Scourge of the Betrayer touches on a ton of cool worldbuilding ideas.  Soul devouring weapons, the Godveil, Memory witches, Salyards has built himself a well populated playground to play in for future books in this series.  For this volume, he’s kept the worldbuilding very light, perhaps as a tease for the reader, and perhaps simply as a requirement of an action heavy novel that’s less than 300 pages long.

I was about out of my comfort zone as Arki was out of his.  The members of Braylar’s troop are very, very good at what they do. Highly trained, they know how to take orders with out question, set up weapons and ambushes, and generally kick tons of ass. Arki mentions on more than one occasion that it would take him years to learn all this. No wonder they see him as a liability.  Even if he manages not get himself killed in an ambush,  if he asks too many questions or connects too many dots, that might get him killed quicker. Braylar has found reason to kill more than one scribe these last few years – they observe too much, they ask too many questions.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.