The Chronicle

The 19th Bladesman


IF YOU’RE counting down the days until Jon Snow and company bring winter to Westeros this is a must read.

The first book in author S.J. Hartland’s Shadow Sword series, The 19th Bladesman is a fantasy novel of grand proportion­s.

From the first chapter Hartland paints a vivid picture of a harsh but at the same time beautiful land.

A land whose inhabitant­s live and die by the sword and the oaths they keep (or break).

The 19th Bladesman has everything you’d expect of a fantasy novel – sword play, magic, mysticism and vengeful gods – but it is the characters that set the book apart.

Hartland has created with a cadre of characters who are anything but stereotypi­cal.

She has created characters who are bent, broken and very relate-able.

Kaell is everything you’d expect of a “hero” – brash, talented and powerful. But there are times when his behaviour is frustratin­g, putting the “love of his lord” ahead of common-sense and duty.

Then there is Kaell’s lord Val Arques – a man who we quickly discover is anything but the typical cold and aloof master you would expect in such a book.

The author then puts those characters through the ringer – testing them physically and emotionall­y. And it those tests that make this a great read.

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, Hartland cleverly “changes the narrative” serving up a new piece of informatio­n that twists the plot around.

A great introducti­on to what will no doubt be an epic series.

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