When starting a new book, there is almost no better news than finding out it’s a good book. One piece of news that is better, however, is finding out that there are already sequels to read. Such was the case after I started reading Broken Blade by Kelly McCullough last week, when I found out that there are already numerous sequels that I’m going to be able to just keep reading and reading and reading.
Turns out, the second book in the series wasn’t half bad, either. Bared Blade is the second book in the Fallen Blade series, and picks up not long after the first book concludes. There is the necessary re-setting up of events and the world, but we are soon cast straight back into the world of Aral Kingslayer, and his Shadow companion, Triss.
The only thing to change from book one to two was a slight decrease in the quality of the writing, which I suspect will be a temporary issue soon resolved in the third book. The story was just a little looser and missing that mystery spark that perfectly ties good writing together.
Nevertheless, despite the slight drop in rating for this book, I can’t recommend it enough as a wonderful continuation to a really impressive story. McCullough continues his world building in this book, delving a bit deeper into the magical world and the creatures that inhabit it – something we didn’t see a lot of in the first book, except for a few hints here and there. Bared Blade, however, does away with any timidity and jumps wholeheartedly into a world of creatures well beyond the human norm, and numerous ways in which the world’s magic has spawned and affected its inhabitants.
In fact, the author’s ability to reinterpret magic for his characters is one of the most impressive aspects of his writing. There are very few trope-y magic users in this story, and even the ones that could be considered a trope are relegated to minor roles. Rather, Bared Blade pits four completely different uses of magic against one another, and the end result is explosive, and destructive.
There is very little continuation from the first book, except for Aral’s own personal journey and growth. I suspect that this growth is heading somewhere, but I’m valiantly attempting to avoid reading the blurbs of future books. Regardless, this standalone book is not lessened by the lack of ties to the previous book, and only the author knows how many ties there really are.
Aral continues to be a wonderfully drawn out character, but he is almost the less interesting character, in my opinion, compared to his new client/s – of which I won’t say anymore, so I don’t ruin the surprise. Nevertheless, the McCullough’s talent is clear, in his depiction of this character, as he weaves an impressive type of magic and personality and creates a wonderfully rich and fascinating character.
Bared Blade continues what is going to be one of the more impressive fantasy series I’ve read in a while, and though it may not have the gravitas of Steven Erikson or Brandon Sanderson, it has all of the talent and skill, plus the easy reading that can be so attractive in a readers life.
Review by Joshua S Hill
8/10 from 1 reviews
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