Exile by Martin Owton (The Nandor Tales #1)

In the expansive world of indie fantasy, it's easy to note the abundance of dark, edgy novels, with many authors attempting to out-shock their peers.

I'm a Grimdark fan, but I began my fairly late entry in to Fantasy fiction with Epic series like Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, and Robin Hobb and Pat Rothfuss' work so every once in a while a novel like Martin Owton's Exile, with its more classic style and themes feels extremely welcome and refreshing.

Without rehashing the overall plot extensively, Exile tells the story of Aron, a young assassin who after killing one of an Earle's top swordsman in a bar brawl, finds himself enlisted by the Earle and his wife on a mission to save their captive son. 

Being a top swordsman and a clear commodity to the Earle, Aron finds himself surrounded by a realm of intrigue which includes advances by not only the Earle's two daughters, but his wife as well, which leads to family feuding, questions of motive and often frustration for Aron, who for much of the book attempts to remain aloof and focus on his mission. Oh and somewhere along the way he manages to be seduced by a fertility Goddess...and we all know where that motive lies.

While I have often found fault with stories that focus on a roguish gentlemen being the subject of every female character's affection, and while it's true that Lady Alice and her daughters Celaine and Edith may not be the finest examples of progressive females in literature, it is important to view the novel for what it seems to be modelled most after, or at least how it reads which is that of a period piece.

Much like Jane Austin and Patrick O'Brian, Owton seems to place his world in a time where chivalry rules the day, and equality is a non-issue. By focusing on an MC that is often confused, reluctant and even disinterested, and female characters pulling the strings from behind the scenes, the author bridges the gap between then gallant Errol Flynn style swashbucklers and the more gritty style popularized by GRRM.

Much of the novel features excellent battle sequences and some great character moments. There is an ongoing power struggle between Aron and Tancrid, a relative of the Earle entrusted to lead the mission which leads to many tense moments and some wonderful dialogue.

I found much to love here, and I am looking forward to the conclusion of Aron's story. Owton is a great writer whose prose is fluid and readable. Like many self-published works there are a few very forgivable typos but overall I found the book to be in the top tier of self-published works from an editing perspective.

Give Exile a try if you are looking for a beautifully written escape and maybe even some fun in your reading.

8/10 Give Exile a try if you are looking for a beautifully written escape and maybe even some fun in your reading.

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