Scourge of the Betrayer Review.
Rating 4/5 stars.
The first book in The Bloodsounder Arc does a great job introducing us to this world and peoples through the eyes of Arkamondos, the Scribe. He is the narrator of the story and as a trained scribe he doesn’t miss much. Arki, as he is called, is hired by Captain Braylar Killcoin to chronicle the doings of him and his company of Syldoon soldiers. Somewhat naïvely Arki finds himself in the employ of a dark and dangerous man and his staff of hardened warriors. Even though Arki has had a far from ideal upbringing, he is in turn terrified, repelled, and sickened by the actions of those he is travelling with. Lloi, the Grass Dog woman, maimed and cast out by her people because of what she is. The Captain, Braylar, Syldoon veteran soldier, killer and bearer of Bloodsounder the strangely wrought flail that causes him to descend into a hell of mental and physical torment whenever he kills with it. And the company, Mulldoos, Glesswik, Vendurro, Hewspear and others – Jeff Salyards has created wonderful characters and delightful dialogue.
There are well worked fight and battle scenes, nice little twists, sweet droll and dark humour. I like Jeff’s creation of the God Veil, The Memoridon Magic and the Gods who left them all behind. There is some nastiness and blood but this is a world of darkness and corruption, populated by creatures of nightmare and people hardened by necessity. And through it all moves the Captain and Co, causing mayhem and disruption in the service of their Emperor. A great start to this series.
Veil of the Deserters Review.
Rating 5/5 stars.
This, the second book in the Bloodsounders Arc series does everything I hoped it would and gets an extra star.
There is more of all the good stuff laid down in Scourge of the Betrayer to keep us all enthralled. More great fighting, intelligently thought through. More wonderful dialogue and humour. Characters that you will get involved with, and care about, or dislike because they are so twisted and bad. All the gang that remained are here from Scourge and we learn a lot more about them as individuals. There are some wonderful new characters who will have you entertained. We also discover more about the magic and mythology of this world and how it may be connected to its people.
Captain Braylar Killcoin is still suffering from the effects of using Bloodsounder. He and the company are continuing to disrupt the elite of Alespell as per their previous mission with Arki still trying to make some sense of it all. The Syldoonian Emperor is recalling all operatives for a formal oath of fealty. The capital is a vipers’ pit of intrigue and danger but Braylar must go.
Dragged into the machinations of deposed emperor Thumarr and current emperor Cynead the company finds itself caught up in a game of “Who is friend and foe?” We also meet Braylar’s sister Soffjian who is capable of helping him with his mental torture but with who he shares a mutual distrust. Arki begins to come out of his shell and shows his skills. Jeff Salyards has a well paced story telling style that is improving with each outing. A great read and I can’t wait for book 3.
Jeff Salyards Profile.
Royal Crown bag full of multi-sided dice? Check. Blood-red hooded cloak? Check. Annual pilgrimages to Renaissance Faires? Check. Whacking other (curiously athletic and gifted) dorks with rattan swords in the SCA? Check. Yes, I earned my badges, thank you very much.
My whole life, I’ve been fascinated by the fantastic, and of course this extended to speculative fiction of all kinds. Countless prepubescent evenings found me reading a worn, dog-eared copy of Thuvia, Maid of Mars (it sounded so much dirtier than it was!) or The Frost Giant’s Daughter (high hopes for that one too!) well past lights-out, flashlight in hand, ignoring the repeated calls to turn in. That’s as quiet and harmless a rebellion as you can have, and my parents mostly sighed and left me to it.
I live with my lovely wife, Kris, and three daughters in a suburb west of Chicago. I am indebted to Kris in countless ways for her steadfast encouragement, support, and thick skin in dealing with a prickly, moody writer. I don’t always like living with me, but she has a choice and stays anyway.
And before you are tempted to mention it, I am fully aware that siring three daughters is certainly karmic retribution, particularly when they all transform into teenagers. I cling to the hope of discovering at least one of them reading covertly in the middle of the night. That kind of transgression I can handle.
Author Q & A
BCN: When did you realize you wanted to write? Is it something that you have done since childhood, or was there something that happened in adulthood that caused you to start?
Jeff : Yeah, I’ve always enjoyed writing. When we were in fourth grade and had to write a little essay about what we wanted to be when we grew up, I wrote, “Jewel thief, stuntman, or writer.” At the time I was probably gravitating towards stuntman, but sadly, nobody wants to train a 40-something year old apprentice on jumping out of burning buildings, so I missed my window for that one, and I’m really too big and clumsy to be a successful jewel thief. So writer it is.
BCN: What authors or books have you have found inspirational?
Jeff : This is always such a tough questions, since I could rattle off huge lists and go on about it for days, neither of which you probably want. I would love to be able to write a book like A Prayer for Owen Meany, poignant and moving and resonating. Or something absurdly funny like Catch-22. Or something as disturbing or almost pulverizing as Clockwork Orange. If I could muster dialogue half as clever as Tom Stoppard’s I’d high five myself. I read prose by someone like Octavia Butler and am stunned at how sharp and evocative it is.
And as far as inspiring just in the sense of trying to be a better writer, hard to go wrong with Stephen King’s On Writing. I’d recommend that to anyone interested in an unvarnished and very accessible book on craft.
Jeff : Having a supportive spouse is great. So is having three kids, but not gonna lie, it can be a challenge to carve out time to write with a young family at home. That said, it’s easy to make excuses—and I’m good at it!—but I’m sure plenty of people with bigger challenges create the time, so really I’m just whining.
I usually write late in the evening, and sometimes on the weekend, but it’s not consistent enough to be called a routine.
BCN: How do your ideas come to you? Some writers have dreams, some hear a phrase or a story from history. What has given you that “Yes!” moment?
Jeff : Ideas come out of the blue sometimes, and I scramble to write them down in a notebook. The Syldoon culture and infrastructure was inspired by some research I did for a project ages ago on the Mameluke Sultanate in Egypt. I was fascinated by the slave solider dynamic, and while I took it in a different direction and added some layers (and of course, the Memoridons) to avoid it being a complete and utter historical rip-off, there is no denying that impacted the direction the book went in.
BCN: Now that Veil of the Deserters is out and being enjoyed by all, can you reveal what is in the pipeline for us to enjoy next?
Jeff : I’m working on book three in the series, tentatively called Bane of the Revenger. But that’s a super soft tentative—I’ll probably change my mind a hundred times. Anyway, that’s going to occupy this next year. Not sure if I’ll do any short stories. And then after that, it’s sort of murky. Do you have a Magic Eight Ball?
BCN: Thank You for your time, Jeff.
If you want to contact Jeff Salyards his website is : jeffsalyards.com
by Leanne Ellis