Backlist Burndown Review: Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards
Published by Audible Studios on May 1st 2012
Source: Author, Publisher
Many tales are told of the Syldoon Empire and its fearsome soldiers, who are known throughout the world for their treachery and atrocities. Some say that the Syldoon eat virgins and babies–or perhaps their own mothers. Arkamondos, a bookish young scribe, suspects that the Syldoon’s dire reputation may have grown in the retelling, but he’s about to find out for himself.
Hired to chronicle the exploits of a band of rugged Syldoon warriors, Arki finds himself both frightened and fascinated by the men’s enigmatic leader, Captain Braylar Killcoin. A secretive, mercurial figure haunted by the memories of those he’s killed with his deadly flail, Braylar has already disposed of at least one impertinent scribe ... and Arki might be next.
Archiving the mundane doings of millers and merchants was tedious, but at least it was safe. As Arki heads off on a mysterious mission into parts unknown, in the company of the coarse, bloody-minded Syldoon, he is promised a chance to finally record an historic adventure well worth the telling, but first he must survive the experience!
A gripping military fantasy in the tradition of Glen Cook, Scourge of the Betrayer explores the brutal politics of Empire–and the searing impact of violence and dark magic on a man’s soul.
The final book in the Bloodsounder’s Arc recently released, and the number of trusted sources that not just recommend, but highly recommend the series just could not be ignored any more. What I have heard is this first book is really good, but the next two are amazing. So, I went into this with solid expectations of a good read, and hopes of getting started in a fantastic series.
So far, my friends have not led me astray. The story is told by a scribe, Arkamandos (aka Arki) who has recently joined a small group of soldiers. I really enjoyed getting the story from his perspective and being from his perspective really influenced the story for the reader. Arki can only tell the reader what he himself knows as he learns it. That means anything Arki doesn’t know, the reader will not know either. It’s an interesting aspect that makes Arki an unintentional unreliable narrator. This is a story the reader must just go with the flow and piece together as information is revealed. Personally, I really think it made the story a bit more enjoyable as it saves some twists for the reader (and for Arki). Arki being a scribe also brought fresh eyes into the lives of soldiers.
The other two characters we get to know the best are Braylar and Lloi. Braylar is great fun and a ruthless soldier. The book can be brutal, but Braylar’s wit keeps it all in check and amusing. Braylar also has a bit of mystery surrounding him as far as Arki is concerned. It quickly becomes obvious that Braylar has some sort of magic ability or unexplainable power, but the root and depth of it is not really known. Lloi is honestly more of a mystery. A woman who is missing the fingers on one hand makes appearances through the story. She is nice and intriguing, but since Arki wasn’t certain what her role was, neither was the reader.
But it does all come together. Much like The Black Company by Glenn Cook you just have to keep reading, take the story as it comes and enjoy it along the way. I found this first book to be quite engaging with interesting character, great wit and plenty of reasons to come back for more. I’m looking forward to reading the next one which I hear is even better.
I have challenged and committed myself to reading at least one book from my backlist every month and posting the review on the last Friday of the month. I invite anyone interested to join me and link up their own Backlist Burndown reviews. I will offer the link at the bottom of my monthly Backlist Burndown reviews, and also will keep a running record of the reviews on my Dracarys! Backlist Burndown page available from my top menu.