Friday, May 9, 2014

Blades of Valor: Review



It’s over! Done for, finished…

And a rather good ending it was too, for Sigmund Brouwer’s Merlin’s Immortals series. I finally read Blades of Valor, and I actually liked it fairly well.

Blades of ValorSo far in this series, Thomas has been batted back and forth between the Druids and the Immortals like a shuttlecock. First, in The Orphan King, he must take back his heritage from the dark powers who stole it and destroyed his family. His position is precarious, though, as he finds others who know more about his past and his castle’s secrets than he does in Fortress of Mist, before he is forced to undergo a test of divine judgment and finally flee Magnus to escape a powerful band of monks claiming to offer men the Holy Grail.

For me, the previous book, Martyr’s Fire, felt frustratingly convoluted. Everyone knows everyone else is up to something, but can’t prove who is working for what. Therefore, no one can trust anyone and Thomas has to run all over the place looking for a mysterious secret. I really didn’t like the book as a stand-alone story and almost decided not to finish the series. But, I can hardly ever leave a story half-read, so after a reasonable amount of procrastination, I started into Blades of Valor.

It was a good change from the previous books, while still continuing Thomas's story.


There are still lots of secrets to this story, and some of them still don’t make sense at the end, but Blades of Valor seemed to pick up energy as it went on. The story reads just as fast as the previous books with just over 200 pages, but it travels from Acre on the Mediterranean coast down to the Dead Sea and back to Jerusalem. On the way, Thomas dodges bandits, learns who he can really trust, and tracks down the final secret he needs to reclaim Magnus from the Druids. And yes, it has the happily-ever-after Thomas wants—after he finally devises a test to cut past all the lies and trickery he faces.

I'm still not sure how high I would rank this series in my favorites list, after book three especially, but it is a good bit of medieval fantasy most YA readers could enjoy. There's no real magic for those who try to avoid that, but Brouwer does throw in a fun combination of science and sleight-of-hand, as well as a few fun characters. Ultimately, I'd say it's a read-once, rather than a keep-on-the-shelf series. Just remember to read it as a series, because the books don't stand on their own.


[My thanks to Blogging for Books for sending me a free ebook version of Blades of Valor, in exchange for my honest opinion of the book.]

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