June 16, 2016

Chains of the Heretic by Jeff Salyards

Blurb: Emperor Cynead has usurped command of the Memoridons—Tower-controlled memory witches—and consolidated his reign over the Syldoonian Empire. After escaping the capital city of Sunwrack, Captain Braylar Killcoin and his Jackal company evade pursuit across Urglovia, tasked with reaching deposed emperor Thumarr and helping him recapture the throne. Braylar’s sister, Soffjian, rejoins the Jackals and reveals that Commander Darzaak promised her freedom if she agreed to aid them in breaking Cynead’s grip on the other Memoridons and ousting him.

Imperial forces attempt to intercept Braylar’s company before they can reach Thumarr. The Jackals fight through Cynead’s battalions but find themselves trapped along the Godveil. Outmaneuvered and outnumbered, Braylar gambles on some obscure passages that Arki has translated and uses his cursed flail, Bloodsounder, to part the Godveil, leading the Jackals to the other side. There, they encounter the ruins of human civilization, but they also learn that the Deserters who abandoned humanity a millennium ago and created the Veil in their wake are still very much alive. But are they gods? Demons? Monsters?

What Braylar, Soffjian, Arki, and the Jackals discover beyond the Godveil will shake an empire, reshape a map, and irrevocably alter the course of history.

Format: Chains of the Heretic is the third and final book in the Bloodsounder's Arc. I am reviewing a paperback ARC I received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the novel. The hardback version of the novel is 524 pages in length. The book was originally published by Night Shade Books on February 16th of 2016. The novel is told in the 1st person POV through the eyes of Arki, the a Syldoon company's scribe.

Setting: A large portion of this novel takes place in the area around Sunwrack after Captain Killcoin's company is forced to make a swift evacuation from the capital. In their flight they will see ruined cities and strange countries beyond the edge of the world. Some pretty vivid imagination is used at the edge of the world, I will do no spoiling here, but it was a really fascinating place that the Syldoon company is driven to. 

Characters: Arki is back with all the Syldoon soldiers from the earlier two books in the series. This novel really dove into the background of Captain Killcoin and a backstory is pursued through Arki's consistent questions throughout. Mulldoose, the usually ornery Syldoon begins to warm up to Arki a lot more and I found their relationship interesting and very engaging as it formed. Vendurro of course is back, he has been my favorite character throughout the series and he is back as the one Syldoon that can put up with all of Arki's questions and doesn't quite fit in himself.  Overall I was very pleased with the way the relationships progressed from where we started in Scourge of the Betrayer  to the way things ended. I couldn't be more pleased with all the developments, truth be told.

Plot: With the forces of Cynead nipping at the heels of the escaping Syldoon, Braylar and company are driven to the veil at the end of the world. At the encouragement of Arki's findings they cross the veil into uncharted territory. They hope they've found the way to escape the troubles of Cynead and regroup, but what they find there will ultimately be far, far worse. But the Syldoon will need to do everything in their power to survive and help to retake the throne from Cynead so the Jackals will once again be welcome in the streets of their home city. 

My Thoughts: This was definitely the strongest novel in the series and an excellent close to one of my favorite series in fantasy. I've grown to love these characters and the world they dwell in. I was worried I'd be let down, but instead I was blown away. A lot happens over the course of Chains of the Heretic and it's amazing for me to see how far we've come from Scourge of the Betrayer. I'm really excited to see what Jeff has in store for whatever his next series will end up being. But the Bloodsounder's Arc really is an unsung gem in the fantasy genre. If you haven't treated yourself to this series, you're missing out on one of the greatest Grimdarkesque fantasy novels out there. Give it a go and do yourself a favor!

About the Author: Jeff Salyards grew up in a small town north of Chicago. While it wasn't Mayberry, it was quiet and sleepy, so he got started early imagining his way into other worlds that were loud, chaotic, and full of irrepressible characters. While he ultimately moved away, he never lost his fascination for the fantastic. Though his tastes have grown a bit darker and more mature over the years. 

Jeff lives near Chicago with his wife and three daughters. By day, he is a book editor for the American Bar Association; by night, he will continue to crank out novels as long as there are readers willing to read them.

Author's Website: Jeff Salyard's Website

1 comment:

  1. Each of the novels in the Bloodsounder's Arc got dramatically better than the last, and I was wholly impressed by what Salyards wrote in Chains of the Heretic. With how much his writing improved over the course of this trilogy, I'll be eager to see what Salyards writes next.