Scourge of the Betrayer - Jeff Salyards

Scourge of the Betrayer
Book 1 of "Bloodsounder's Arc"

ISBN : 9781597804066
GENRE : Fantasy
PAGES : 320
PUBLISHER : Night Shade Books

AUTHOR - Jeff Salyards

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.

“You haven’t lived until you’ve grieved. Death, life, together, the same. And if you’ve only experienced life you’re only half-alive.”
“And if that only inflames your curiosity, I say to you, a writer without curiosity is a bird without feathers.”
“Your mugs are weaker than your ale, innkeeper. I regret I have to pay for either.” 
“She regarded me as a seasoned drover might regard a cow.” 
“I'll tell you this much. Men think memories are like murals or statues or truth or whatever happened, never changes none. But that ain't so. They can capture the untruth of something, just as easy. They can change, especially as time leads to time.

FL Speak - Where do I start about this book? The lack of a plot or the immensely lovable uncouth humour? The fantastic characters or the whirwind action sequences?

Scourge of the Betrayer takes you on a ride alongside ill-disciplined mercenaries where swords and flails speak mightier than the words of the scribe through whose POV we muddle across. An opportunist meets an unpredictable man and is left to make choices he never imagined were choices. Stuck between a rock and hard place, our scribe Arki attempts to pierce the mystery of the Slydoon in hopes of seeing himself in a glorified pedestal.

I love such books. I am a sucker for teams and cadres. Be it the Bridgeburners, the Mad Lancers or the Band of the Red Hand. If there are people worth following into battle, I invest more than a little emotion into them. The Slydoon is one such group. Jeff Salyards takes us on a nightmarish journey of gut wrenching fight brutality and a plot loosely tied around the outcome of such fights.

There is a larger story. There has to be. But for once, I'm glad to read a book without thinking too far ahead.

RATING - 4 Stars

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