After finishing a book that I loved as much as Django Wexler’s The Shadow Throne, it can be very difficult for me to just jump into whatever is next on the list. For whatever reason, I simply need to read something similarly engaging – and in this case, that meant wonderful writing, great characters, set in a fantasy world.
Luckily for me, I came across Kelly McCullough’s Broken Blade, the first book in his A Fallen Blade series. McCullough is not a name I had ever heard before, and no doubt I might have continued to pass it by, if not for the continued repeat appearances in Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” series of recommendations (which, honestly, is the best way to find new books to read, in my opinion). I’m a terrible Amazon Kindle sample reader, because samples are supposed to cull supposed possibilities, rather than increase the number. Broken Blade was the third of three samples I had sent myself in the wake of Django Wexler’s The Shadow Throne, and unlike the other two, I was caught immediately.
The book opens brilliantly, doing exactly what the author was hoping for – drawing the reader in to a new take on magic, and an irreverent take on a hero.
And thankfully, the author manages to never let up. Our hero, Aral, once a Blade of Namara, now a lowly jack, finds himself drawn inexorably into the world he had left behind – or, more rightly, been forced to leave behind. Aral is no fool, and the author doesn’t force him to be unwittingly dragged into ever more dangerous situations – rather, Aral begins to find his old self, his old identity, and after initially falling from the pan into the fire, begins to wade ever deeper into the depths of the flame.
Along the way we meet a number of fascinating characters from Aral’s past, and present, that fill the story out wonderfully. By the time the book ends, it isn’t hard to compare it to Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria series of books, with the same irreverent attitude for hero-ing, good man forced to live in the shadows, and larger than life characters.
There seems to be the seeds for a much larger story, but from what I can tell by reading the blurbs for the next two books, any possible continuation will be secondary to individual tales that continue to grow the character of Aral.
Don’t let the Kindle price fool you, Kelly McCullough’s A Fallen Blade series is going to be one to keep an eye on. McCullough writes with a grace not usually found these days, and while it doesn’t stray into the realm of Brandon Sanderson- or Robert Jordan-style epic fantasy, that’s all for the better. Instead, we get to stay closer to the ground, in a corner of the world that allows a more intimate and personal interaction with a fascinating characters.
Review by Joshua S Hill
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Jananda from South Africa
Loved it and my sister loved it too. I liked the style it was written in, usually I don't like first-person novels but with this book it didn't bother me at all. I also liked the fact that the author didn't drag out a scene or situation, not too much detail but also not too little. It was fast paced without being too fast and overwhelming. Looking to get the next books for sure!
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