Memories of Blood & Shadow by Alex S. Jones
I have got the first in The Broken Gods trilogy, but shamefacedly have not had the time to read it yet. However, I immediately set time aside to read this one, and am so glad that I did.
The book was released yesterday, and if you feel tempted, please go ahead and check it out. Anyway, let's get on with it.
Guilt cuts sharper than the deadliest of blades.
Tavar Farwan lives alone past the Undying Sands. One stormy night, he is attacked by two young warriors claiming to vengeance for an ill from ages past. Tavar defends himself, killing one of the intruders and leaving the other to bleed on the floor. Weary and filled with regret, Tavar offers to tell the young man his story: a story of how a nomadic orphan rose to kill a God.
Ever since seeing the cover for Memories of Blood & Shadow I knew that this was a book that I had to read, for which I must thank the author, Aaron S Jones for gifting me
A beautiful advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
Now I must say that I enjoyed this book immensely, from start to finish. It is filled with adventure from start to finish and filled with remarkably vivid characters from the outset.
Immediately upon meeting the grizzled warrior Tavar Farwan, I knew I was going to enjoy this tale.
In a nutshell, the book tells the story of Tavar Farwan and how he became a slave, a soldier and a revolutionary, with the story being told in a series of montages of an older man looking back on his life, and how his tale becomes embroiled with the growing Empire of Alfara, a cruel Caliphate bent on dominating its neighbours.
The book is billed as epic fantasy, however in truth, there are few fantastical elements in the story with only a magic sword as its main source of magic. However, for me this proved to be its strength, and I think that massive magical elements would have detracted from Tavars story and the horrors that he experiences at the brutal hands of Alfara.
When we initially meet Tavar, he is an aged man that lets two warriors shelter from a violent storm. However, all is not as it seems as a fight ensues when they reveal that they know that he is the famous warrior Tavar Farwan. One of the warriors is killed, but the other begs the old man to recount the tale of his life and how he helped raise an empire, and subsequently destroys an empire, especially as the king that he helped put on the throne has now become a tyrant himself.
From this, Tavar tells of how his parents were brutally murdered by a patrol of Alfaran warriors who believe that his parents have aided and abetted a group of deserters. His and his friends parents are brutally massacred in front of the children, and as they come from travelling families they are taken as slaves.
We then follow Tavar as he is enlisted in the Alfaran military school, to learn how to fight, and subsequently end his indenture to the army by fighting for a set period of time.
The book itself may seem familiar to fantasy fans and have those familiar themes that most fantasy fans love, such as found family, the rise of the underdog etc etc. However, the book is so lovingly crafted that you cannot help but fall for its charms, and let me tell you this book is full of charm. From the middle eastern backdrop, to the vivid characters.
Obviously Tavar is the main character, and in all his guises, such as grizzled veteran, precocious young boy to gladiator and eventually saviour, you never fail to warm to him. However, there is a full supporting cast and these help enrich and enliven the tale. Firstly there are the twins, Adam & Alice, who are initially taken with him, then there is arch nemesis Carver & Qassim. Added to that, there are the friends that he makes along the way, such as Medda, Kenjii and Halfour and others.
The book itself is engaging, and I laughed, oohed and aahed at the various stages of the tale. I had that wide - eyed slack jaw look when twists and turns emerged in the story and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. The world itself is immersive, and Aaron S.Jones makes the setting a part of the book and does not bombard the reader with massive info dumps or too much extraneous information.
Memories of Blood & Shadow had me enthralled from beginning to end, and if you want a tale that is full of thrills, spills and out and out adventure, I cannot recommend it enough.
And as a final note, I must say that the book definitely delivered on what what was promised on the cover.