“Blade Lord (The Decallion Series, Book 1)” by S.J. Hartland

Blade Lord (The Decallion Series, Book 1)

S.J. Hartland
Dark Blade Publishing (2021)
ISBN 9780648437284
Reviewed by Haley Kilgour for Reader Views (01/2022)

Set in a fantastical world, kingdoms are at stake. To save them, these kingdoms need a blade lord—the only one not already tethered to a ruler of one of the Circle Kingdoms. Sinnabar sets out to make Decallion, her lover, remember her and free him from the citadel. But her work doesn’t go according to plan. With Decallion now in the Shadow Kingdom, he faces a choice that he may come to regret while Sinnabar does all she can; Gedeon the traitor, in tow.

From the get-go, this book really drew me in. The world is incredibly fleshed out and the characters are semi-lovable. Decallion has this kind of naïveté about him that makes it difficult to not love him; he is sheltered, and that often acts as his fatal flaw. Sinnabar I found was much harder to like as a character. She’s driven by love “supposedly,” but it all seems incredibly selfish. And she’s never actually as smart or good at making plans as she thinks she is. Gedeon is someone whose backstory you want to know, because there’s always something about him you don’t quite get.

The fact Hartland was able to spring a few plot twists on me just shows her skill, as I rarely am surprised. But there were also twists I was able to see coming, or that I had a “feeling” about and wasn’t completely sure. Still, she did get me a couple of times! As I was reading, there were two things overall that irked me. The first was how often a character would nibble on their lip; it seemed almost surprising they had lips left to nibble on by the end of the book. The second thing was the wild variations in chapter lengths. You’d have a chunk of chapters that were ten pages, then a group that was more than double that, and some small, two-page chapters thrown in. The disparities did mess with the flow a little, and I often found that the very long chapters could’ve been split in two.

When we finally do get Gedeon’s story, he suddenly gets two perspectives. Given the rest of the book was either Decallion or Sinnabar, I think Hartland could have found a way to keep it to just the two of them. Also, Gedeon skipped over all the information about Decallion’s origins, which doesn’t get resolved by the end, so as the reader you don’t know why his origins are important to anything. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed in Book 2.

Overall, this is a really good epic fantasy. I would recommend this for people who liked the series’ Eragon, Lord of the Rings, or The Name of the Wind.

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