(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)
Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Heretic, by Avenged Sevenfold (Spotify, YouTube).
Chains of the Heretic, by Jeff Salyards, is the third and final installment of the Bloodsounder's Arc after Scourge of the Betrayer and Veil of the Deserters. This is a series that I've been closely following since its inception, something that I rarely do. For some reason or other, I tend to read the first book in a saga and then happily move to a different one without much pity or remorse. But, in this case, each book is better than the previous one and I had to know how the story ended. In that regard, Chains of the Heretic is, hands down, the best novel of the trilogy and a more than adequate ending to the adventures of Arkamondos, Captain Braylar Killcoin and the rest of the characters.
The book begins exactly after the events of Veil of the Deserters, but after some chapters there is a huge and, at least to me, unexpected plot twist. I don't want to spoil anybody's reading experience, so it should suffice to say that there is a big revelation that leads to a lot surprising discoveries and, what is even better, to many brilliant scenes, including some of the best battles I've ever read in a fantasy book. Only for that, the novel is worth the price of admission and no fan of grimdark and epic fantasy should miss it.
The action scenes were my favorite parts of the novel, but they are only but an example of the many virtues of the book. The characters, for instance, are very well-developed and, as in the case of Arkamondos, show in this novel how all the life-changing events that they have been experiencing since the beginning of the story have transformed them. The dialog is, again, witty and intelligent (especially in the frequent, not very friendly verbal interchanges of two of the Syldoon soldiers) and the use of the language by Salyards is spot on, with a perfectly crafted archaic tone in some passages.
The novel, however, also has some minor flaws. The abrupt beginning caught me a bit off-guard, for instance, because it has been more than one year and a half since I finished the previous volume and there were many details that I had forgotten (maybe a prologue to refresh weak memories like mine would have been advisable). But my main problem with the book (and I had already complained about it when reviewing Veil of the Deserters) is that it is very long. I know that this is an expected trait in modern fantasy novels and that I may very well be the only one that prefers books to be short, but I really find it a bit exhausting when I've been reading the same book for a week and realize that I'm only half my way in. Oddly enough, the final chapters, which feature an amazing and completely epic (in the best sense of the word) battle felt a bit rushed in comparison with other parts of the novel.
Anyway, Chains of the Heretic is, as I mentioned above, the best book of a series that has only been growing in quality and interest with each new installment. If you have already read the previous two books, you really need to read this one as soon as possible. If you haven't read them yet and you call yourself a fan of epic fantasy, what are you waiting for? Buy the books. Read them. You'll enjoy them immensely.