jueves, 29 de mayo de 2014

Veil of the Deserters, by Jeff Salyards

(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 Behind The Veil by Dream Theater (Spotify, Youtube).

It had happened to me with Scourge of the Betrayer and it happened again while reading Veil of the Deserters: this is not the kind of book that I usually like, but I found myself enjoying it quite a lot. Jeff Salyards's prose, sense of mystery and fantastic character development made me read page after page once again. In fact, I dare to say that, with only one exception (more on this later), Veil of the Deserters is superior to Scourge of the Betrayer in every respect.

In fact, the plot is more interesting and there are much more things happening (lots of action scenes and battles, yay!); the new feminine characters (Soffjan and Skeelana) are an excellent counterpoint to the hardened Syldoon soldiers; the importance of the Bloodsounder is much more prominent; the worldbuilding is more rounded and the pieces of puzzle are, slowly, beginning to fit one with another. Also, the book ends with a cliffhanger that will have the reader impatiently waiting for the next installment.

One of the most attractive elements of the novel is the development of Arkamondos, the main protagonist. He will have to face dire situations and to decide where his loyalties lie, and this will change it completely. In fact, one could even argue that there is something of bildungsroman in the book because of that.

In addition to all this, Veil of the Deserters has everything that made Scourge of the Betrayer such a remarkable book. Witty dialog, fleshed-out characters, vivid battle scenes, intrigue, treason and difficult moral conflicts. Salyards more than successfully manages to overcome the Second Book Syndrome, raising the stakes for the final novel of the trilogy.     

My only problem with Veil of the Deserters is that it is far too long (almost 70% longer than Scourge of the Betrayer was). Although, as I mentioned above, there is a lot going on in the book and most of the scenes are needed either for advancing the plot or revealing details that are used later, I cannot help feeling that some of them couldn't have been trimmed, making the novel even better. I am thinking, specifically, of certain moments when Arkamondos talks with the soldiers about their past. They might prove important in the following novel, but when reading them my impression was that the pace dragged unnecessarily.

Despite this problem, Veil of the Deserters is a solid, entertaining and well-written book that I recommend to every fantasy reader out there. I am really looking forward to seeing how Salyards closes this Bloodsounder's Arc, because it may very well become one of the must-read fantasy epics of the twenty-first century.

(You can also read this review in Spanish at El Fantascopio/También puedes leer esta reseña en castellano en El Fantascopio)

2 comentarios:

  1. Nice review. I recently finished Abercrombie's "The Blade Itself" trilogy, so I might delay this one a bit, as it also looks like a dark fantasy setting.

    And just a couple of grammar notes from my pedantic side. (Gotta say -- the text reads like a native speaker's one, though!):

    - one could be even argue -> Several options: "one could even argue", "it could even be argued", "one could even begin to argue"... and so on.
    - femenine -> feminine

    And these are probably just typos, so nice effort! :)

  2. Thank you much for your comment qnd for pointing out the mistakes!

    Yes, this one can be considered grimdark, so if you're like me, you might want to read something different before the Bloodsounder Arc, lest you get tired of the genre.

    Thanks once again!