Brave Men Die by Dan Adams

Borderline comfort reading for fantasy readers.
Brave Men Die book cover

Brave Men Die by Dan Adams is the first book in a fantasy series being marketed as grimdark for some reason I'm not sure of. I should start by saying this is not a review of the whole book Brave Men Die by Dan Adams, this is actually a review of the first part of the book, as the publisher has decided to split the book into three parts with each part being sold individually on a monthly basis (so in this case Dec 14, Jan 15, and Feb 15). I have found it hard to actually review this book because I am only reviewing the first part of it, not the whole story, and the story has not been written in the type of episodic style that would make this split work.

The story follows a war between two nations, a war that started when a handful of spell slinging badasses stole an important relic from the Kyzantine Empire under the guise of the Murukan nation. We get points of view from both sides of the war, but the focus seems to be on two brothers, Castor and Pollux, who both belong to separate special forces units in the Murukan army. Part 1 finishes after the first major battle between both sides, with no real resolution because if you were reading this book properly, you would only be a third of the way into the book.

The marketing for this book tried to place it in the grimdark genre, something I don't really understand. There is some violence in the book, but no more blood and gore than what you would normally get in an epic fantasy story. There are no challenging adult themes. There are no challenging decisions to make. There are no shades of morality. It’s just a straight up sword and sorcery book about two countries going to war, possibly set up by a third party. There is a lot of discussion about what grimdark is and isn't, but one thing most people agree on is that grimdark is designed to challenge readers to see things from a different perspective, and Brave Men Die Part 1 of 3 does not do that. Maybe the other parts do that, but I don't know because I haven't read them yet.

The book is well written, the action is well choreographed, but the story and characters are worn out and recycled so that I found it hard to really care about the book. It does nothing new whatsoever, with the exception of a single chapter focused on a couple of characters tasked with defending their outpost from the Kyzantine onslaught. Adams is clearly a talented author, or at least has a great understanding of action set pieces, so its frustrating to see him rehashing tired old tropes with no attempt to mix things up.

I would describe Brave Men Die Part 1 of 3 as borderline comfort reading for fantasy readers, without the comfort of getting the whole story. Don't expect to have your mind blown by anything, just enjoy the battle of sword vs fireball for what it is, popcorn fantasy without much substance. I haven't done much research, but I am pretty sure that its only the ebooks that are being split into parts, and that an ebook and paperback version of the entire book will be released a few months after Part 3 is released. I recommend you wait for the whole story to be released. I respect that the publisher is trying something new, but I think this is a mistake, and that readers will be far more annoyed than enamoured with having to experience this book in parts when it was written with this in mind. I will read Part 2 and 3, because I want to give the author the benefit of the entire story, not this one small part which may not be representative of the entire story.

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