S. J. HartlandNov 11, 2020
The 19th Bladesman
Susan Jane Hartland 2018
A rich and complex world of sword-wielding fighters and seductive sorceresses, written in percussive, lyrical prose. The 19th Bladesman (Dark Blade, 2018) first introduces us to Kaell, the eponymous hero of the novel, when he runs away from the mountain castle where Lord Vraymorg tutors him in swordcraft. We learn the eight-year old Kaell is bonded to the battle god Khir and has been blessed with exceptional strength. In a pattern that’s often to be repeated, Kaell’s defiance of Vraymorg after a verbal tussle propels him into an unsanctioned adventure—and exposure to danger. For Kaell is a target of those who know of the prophecy of the 19th Bladesman. It is said that if he breaks, disaster will strike the lands. Vraymorg is soon informed of this prophecy as well, by a beautiful queen who then beds him, but though he appears stern with Kaell, he loves the boy like his own son. Vraymorg hopes to protects him—well, as much as a child sworn to serve a battle god can ever be protected.
As the tale winds on, introducing us to Island priestesses, dead warriors called Nightriders and naturally, a deliciously sadistic usurper king who delights in torture, Kaell amasses more and more enemies, and some unlikely friends. In a testament to his endearing qualities, even the noble who tries to kill him eventually becomes an ally. But those who are loyal to Kaell will be tested when he faces the biggest challenge of them all—being taken captive by an ancient, seductive, and cunning God who is as deadly as he is beautiful.
Gabrielle Mathieu is the author of the historical fantasy Falcon series (The Falcon Flies Alone, and the upcoming The Falcon Strikes.) She blogs about travel and her books at http://gabriellemathieu.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter @GabrielleAuthor.