Jeff Saylards Bloodsounder’s Arc comes to a close in Chains of the Heretic an entertaining and exciting final entry in series that hearkens back to Sword and Sorcery stories of yesterday. The action in Chains of the Heretics picks up mere moments after the previous book so if you haven’t read any novels in this series watch out for spoilers. Betrayed and on the run Captain Killcoin, Arki, and the soldiers of Jackal Tower must resort to desperate measures in order to make a rendezvous with emperor-in-exile Thumaar. Unfortunately, with the Emperor Cynead’s forces hot on their heels getting away alive isn’t going to be easy. Dire straits lead to dangerous decisions and Captain Killcoin and his Syldoon soldiers have to face a variety of threats, both expected and unexpected, over the course of their journey.
The sequel to 2012’s Scourge of the Betrayer opens the world up quite a bit. Jeff Salyard’s expands upon the Syldoon and their culture giving readers a more in depth look at the culture and society that produced Captain Killcoin and his brothers. Picking up bare moments after the first novel Veil of the Deserter’s see’s historian/narrator Arki and his Syldoon employers holed up in an inn nursing over Captain Killcoin who still suffers under the grievous effects of his flail, Bloodsounder. With the loss of Lloi in the previous novel the Syldoon are desperately searching for a new witch to help the Captain deal with stolen memories that Bloodsounder forces upon its wielder. Unfortunately for the band of soldiers they are instead found by a pair of Syldoon memory witches, one of which is Captain Killcoin’s sister Soffjian. While part of the Syldoon power structure the members of Captain Killcoin’s company view the memory witches with distrust a fact compounded by the obvious bad blood between Captain Killcoin and his sister.
Scourge of the Betrayer
Night Shade, 2012
Even with the publisher’s description I’m sure that I would have made the connection myself but when reading Jeff Salyards’ Scourge of the Betrayer the inevitable comparison is with Glen Cook’s Black Company series. The structure bears some similarity, a military fantasy narrated by a man chronicling deeds, but both remain distinct. Scourge of the Betrayer is told from the perspective of Arki, a young scribe hired to record the deeds of a band of Syldoon warriors lead by Captain Braylar Killcoin. The Syldoon are warriors that border on legendary and it is Arki’s intent to determine how much of that legend was true. Arki, untrained in the ways of battle or the hardships of the road, is thrown into a dangerous mission that will test his dedication to uncovering the truth of the Syldoon and his desire to make his own name.