The Swordsman's Descent by G.M. White
Now, you will have seen this one on my best books of the year but there wasn't a full review. So, I thought I had better get on with it.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Lost in a foreign city. Assassins around every corner. No allies in sight.
Survival is key, when enemies are all around.
Belasko, the Royal Champion, war hero, legendary swordsman, has distanced himself from the trappings of court life and toils at his academy. Searching for his successor.
When a general Belasko defeated long ago stages a coup to place himself upon the Baskan throne, Queen Lilliana’s desire to negotiate a permanent peace takes them into a vipers nest of intrigue, suspicion, and betrayal.
When blades are drawn, and all seems lost, can Belasko save the lives of those he loves the most?
The Swordsman's Descent by G.M.White is the latest in his Royal Champion books. In the Swordsman's Descent we join Bellasko and all the crew in their latest adventure.
The story is set a number of years following The Swordsman's Lament and we see a much different Belasko. He has focussed his time on his academy and has moved away from the court of Queen Lilianna and entered a time of self imposed exile away from rat race.
Meanwhile, we discover that there is some political intrigue with the Baskans, the country of Villan fought against and it was in this war that Belasko made his name.
This time though, the story is different as we see that the Baskan's are now under new leadership, a familiar face from Belasko's past. However, instead of the usual posturing for war, the Baskan's are brokering for peace.
What I loved about this book was that we get to see Belasko a number of years from the first story and get to see that instead of him being the usual Belasko, he is older and beset by that old villain - time. Yep, the main hero has aches and pains that affect him in a number of ways.
Now, when I read the first book in this series, I loved the buccaneering action in this story and gave it five stars, however, The Swordsman's Descent is a massive improvement upon the first and is a more contemplative tale than the first. Yes, it still has plenty of action and daring do, but the story is longer in length than the first tale and this not only gives a greater depth to the characters but it gives the story time to develop.
One of the things that is noticeable is that there is a vast improvement in G.M.White's writing, which is not to cast any aspersions towards the first book as, like I said I loved it, but there seems to be a confidence in his writing and storytelling abilities and it shines through, making The Swordsman's Descent that much better, and where this is more evident is in the quiet moments of the book, that lull in the story where the set pieces are not the main focus.
The other thing that we get to see is much more depth to Belasko himself. It is so nice to see a main character that is ageing and at a different stage of his life. We get to learn more about his own fears, insecurities and fallibilities. We get to see him having doubts about his own abilities and what the future will bring as he moves into the next stage of his life. We get to see that as Belasko is changing so are his goals. He has never had time for himself or accepting himself and his differences as we find out that Belasko is a gay man that has never really accepted himself. He has lived in a village where he felt that his sexuality was used against him. This has had a significant impact on him and has resulted in him believing that his family does not accept him, whereas the truth of the matter is that he has not accepted himself and transferred these insecurities onto others denying himself relationships with others, both personally and in his romantic relationships. It's quite heart warming to see him reuniting with both his family and a figure from his past who he previously had a relationship with.
For me, this book is mainly about transformation, transition and accepting yourself for who you are, and is a really good addition to the series.