Publisher: Night Shade Books
Publication Date: June 3, 2014 (first published May 19, 2014)
Edition: Hardcover, 464 pages
Genre: Epic Fantasy
A plaguing fantastic sequel!
Bloodsounder’s Arc continues as Captain Braylar Killcoin and his retinue continue to sow chaos amongst the political elite of Alespell. Braylar is still poisoned by the memories of those slain by his unholy flail Bloodsounder, and attempts to counter this sickness have proven ineffectual.
The Syldoonian Emperor Cynead has solidified his power base in unprecedented ways, and demands loyalty from all operatives. Braylar and company are recalled to the capital to swear fealty. Braylar must decide if he can trust his sister, Soffjian, with the secret that is killing him. She has powerful memory magics that might be able to save him from Bloodsounder’s effects, but she has political allegiances that are not his own. Arki and others in the company try to get Soffjian and Braylar to trust one another, but politics in the capital prove to be far more complicated and dangerous than even Killcoin could predict.
Deposed emperor Thumarr plots to remove the repressive Cynead, and Braylar and his sister Soffjian lie at the heart of his plans. The distance between “favored shadow agent of the emperor” and “exiled traitor” is an unsurprisingly short road. But it is a road filled with blind twists and unexpected turns. Before the journey is over, Arki will chronicle the true intentions of Emperor Cynead and Soffjian. And old enemies in Alespell may prove to be surprising allies in a conflict no one could have foreseen.
I must say: this was a fantastic sequel! We explore more of the politics of The Syldoon Empire and the history of Bloodsounder and the Deserters; we meet Braylar’s sister and learn of the powers of the Memoridons; and, somehow, Arki becomes even more sympathetic! Oh, and, of course, there are still those realistic and gritty swords fights, and character dialogs full of that gallows humor.
Arki’s heart was in the right place when he wanted to let that Hornman go, but it proved to be a poor decision when he saw him at the festival. Despite the lashing he may receive, he knows that must he inform Captain Killcoin. When Arki goes to tell him, he gets distracted by one of the chests they had been carrying around, opens it, and discovers that it did not contain any ceremonial robs – but, in fact, a number of old scrolls. These scrolls and Arki’s translations skills are the reason behind Braylar choosing him before. So stunned by this, Arki forgets to tell Braylar, even though Braylar has one of his “feelings” that danger is approaching. It is soon after this, that into their hotel walk two Memoridons – one whom is Brayalr’s sister. With her, she had brought an order from Emperor Cynead commanding Braylar to return home immediately. Braylar agrees to this, but he must first make one slight detour to pick up Priest Henlester for their return home.
The one aspect of Veil of the Deserters (my review) that I didn’t really latch on to was the pacing on the story, and the plot itself. There was a chunk in the middle, where I felt it all slowed down for world-building, and then I was unsure of where the plot was headed until toward the end of the story. I am happy to say, that neither of these were issue this time around! Braylar has those ancient scrolls because he believes they may contain information relevant to Bloodsounder’s powers, the Memoridons, and the Deserters. What is also great, is that instead of stopping mid journey to hear Arki have a conversation with Loki about the world and lore, this time, as Akri translates relevant information, we get to hear to him tell Braylar and the crew, which ends up turning it into a conversation. Another thing that was nice, was Jeff always spaced out how much and what information gets revealed to coincide very well with what was happing in the story (in terms of plot and pacing).
We had only heard about the Memoridons last time, but now, we get to meet them, and they are way more powerful that you would believe. Just like Loki, they have the ability go into people’s mind and read and remove memories – but they also have the abilities to perceive and analyze many more senses around us that any normal person would be able to. I’m not going to go into what exactly these heightened perceptions can do – because I want you to be shocked when you see Soffjian is action for the first time – but there appears to be at least two types of Memoridons: War, like Soffjian, and ones the deal with memories, like Skeelana.
Soffjian is Braylar’s sister. I’m not saying that I think they would kill each other, but if they were both of the same sex, each would be missing many teeth and have many bruises and scars from fighting each other. There is some serious tension between them, that you could feel even before they meet. Then, when we finally meet them together, while they may respect each other, it is clear that they both hate each other deeply. This hate comes from their past – as would be expected – and we become privy to that story which also gives us a clearer look into why Braylar is the man who he is today.
The other Memoridon with Soffjian is Skeelana. If I wrote fan-fiction, I would write a story where Skeelana and Arki both ran off together and lived happily ever after. I don’t know how many times in these two books, I would shake my head and wonder how the heck Arki got himself in a situation, or just wished he would stop asking questions! (Oh, poor Arki!) Each time something like that happened, I would feel more and more for that poor boy With Skeelana though, I finally had hope for Akri! And this tale between them, tugged at my heart more than I can say without spoiling anything.
One aspect of Jeff Salyards writing I neglected to focus on the last time was his actual writing. I can’t tell if he improved that much from Scourge to Veil or if I just wasn’t paying attention, but, man(!) – his prose were great this time!
I don’t need to tell you about the fighting, just as great as last time, but I need to tell you how much I loved his dialog and character dynamics. Honestly, if the whole book were only Braylar, Hewspear, Muldoos, Vendurro, and Arki, sitting around a table, talking bullshit, for 400+ pages, I’d probably give that a 4/5. Oh! and other fan-fiction idea: I’d love to see Rike from The Broken Empire trilogy and Muldoos on the same crew together. Personally, I think it would be golden. They’d either hate each other right away and kill each other, or they’d hate each other so much, become best friends, and would constantly be swearing at one another and trying to the out do the other killing the enemies. Either way, I’d love to see what would happen if those two got together.
Just as the ending in Scourage of the Betrayeres left me excited for Veil of the Deserters, well, the ending of Veil of the Deserters has left me excited again! The whole last part of the book was twist after twist of shocking and unexpected moments.
Date Read: 11/16/15 - 11/27/15 Review Written: 11/29/15