For Book Review Wednesday, I’m pleased to bring you an awesome Book 2 in a fantasy series I was immediately sucked into. The Book 1 is one of the few books to receive a 5-star rating from me, and the Book 2 is no less awesome.

The Sword Chronicles: Child of Sorrows

Sword thought it was over.

She thought that when she killed the Chancellor and ended the corrupt reign of the Emperor, that everything would get better. That the suffering would end in Ansborn. That the people would be free.

But now a new terror has been born. A trio of warriors who live only for vengeance, who know only hate, have set their sights on Sword and on those she holds dear. They are powerful, they are deadly, and they are impossible to kill.

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And worst of all, they are but harbingers of what is to come. Because after a thousand years, the unknown enemy that lies below the mountains of Ansborn is at last on the move. And it is coming for them all.

Death from among them.

Death from below.

And only one person – one Sword – has any chance of stopping it.

My Review: 5 Stars

Let me say that I LOVED the characters in Book 1, and they remained as epic in Book 2. The unique abilities they possess are fascinating, and they are all very well-written, very well-developed characters. Plus, the world built by the author is rich, detailed, and sucks you in.

There was one part where I felt the writing fell a bit flat: the death of an important character (I can’t say which for fear of spoilers). The character’s chapter ended a bit abruptly without any real indication of what happened, then their later appearance in the book isn’t written with the impact I’d expect from a character death.

That being said, I was sucked in by the book once more—instead of focusing on rebellion, it focused on trying to control an Empire rotting from the inside out. I can’t wait to read Book 3 and find out what the hell is going on beneath the clouds, and why no one who ever goes below returns alive. SO MUCH to look forward to!

Here’s a Taste:

“This is your last warning!” shouted the bowmen from the tower.

The old man ignored him. He stared straight at Barnas. “You look young, boy. How long have you been in the Army?”

Barnas gulped. He looked at Ikaia, who shook his head and shrugged, clearly just as unsure as he was about how to go about responding to the question.

“Uh… three months, sir.”

“I thought as much. You haven’t grown enough to be part of the problem yet.” The old man waved. “You may leave.”

Barnas cocked his head. “What? What – I mean… what?” The old man might as well have been speaking the language of the Old Ones for all the sense he was making.

The old man’s eyes narrowed – or at least, the wrinkles around where his eyes should be deepened slightly, which Barnas assumed meant his eyes were narrowing. “Are you slow, boy? Get out of here!”

“Where do I – why should I leave?”

“So we don’t kill you.”

Ikaia, for once, didn’t laugh. He appeared just as stunned by the statement as Barnas was.

Laughter came from the guard tower, though. Gruff laughter that made it clear all five men in that hot box of stone and iron thought this an amusing – and probably welcome – break in their usually dull routine of killing convicts.

The old man ignored them. Nor did he seem to notice the other wall guards who were beginning to converge on this section as, one by one, they noticed something new.

New was rarely good in this place.

“Well?” he said. “Are you going to leave?”

Leave, said a voice in Barnas’ head. You hate it here. You’ve always hated it here, so run! Get away!

Run!

But a saner part answered: And where would you go? And how long before the guards butchered these three, hunted you down, and then butchered you, too, as a deserter?

He shook his head. “I am a solder in the Imperial Army. I am a servant to the Empire. I will not leave.”

Ikaia put a proud hand on his shoulder. “Well sai –”

The big man’s voice cut out. Barnas frowned – it wasn’t like his friend to stop talking for any reason, let alone in the middle of a sentence. He saw his friend’s hand, fingers still clenched tightly on his shoulder.

But the hand was attached to an arm that ended at the elbow.

And the rest of Ikaia was just… gone. There was only a thin cloud of blood to mark the place where his friend had been only a moment before.

Someone screamed – Barnas thought it might have been him – and then he heard the distinctive thwap of bowstrings being released, the shhhhk of arrows passing overhead.

He looked at the threesome, and no longer cared how harmless they looked, because clearly they were not harmless, clearly they were dangerous, they had just killed his friend and the only thing he could say about them was that he wanted them to die.

Time seemed to both speed up and slow down. It reminded Barnas of his first day on the wall, the first time a lunatic had run at him, spittle flying, teeth gnashing. The fear. The certainty he was going to die. The relief when he didn’t.

Because Ikaia saved me.

He turned. Followed the arrows’ flight.

Saw.

The first arrow sped to the girl. She didn’t shrink from it. Didn’t flee. Instead, she threw the woolly at it. The thing, a foot-long ball of fur, the kind of thing mothers gave to infants to sleep with and keep them company at night, flee into the air…

… and grew.

In the space of the few feet between the girl’s hands and when it met the arrow, the woolly went from a foot long to something that towered over the girl: probably ten feet tall, and broad in proportion. Its four legs became many-knuckled things that gave it a strangely arachnid appearance, and its snout split to accommodate a suddenly too-wide mouth.

The arrow sped toward it, and it didn’t move away. It simply swallowed the arrow mid-flight, and seemed no worse the wear for it.

The monster was connected to little girl’s wrist by some kind of leash that ran from her wrist to its neck. The leash pulsed with a sickly yellow light, something unhealthy and unwholesome, and as he watched the girl seemed to… fade. She drooped, like wax from a candle that has burned too long. Then she fell forward, and seemed to merge with the leash and through it with the thing that had once been a woolly.

The monster grew still more as it merged with the girl. Its teeth grew even longer and sharper, and it bellowed a terrible shriek that seemed to shake the ash from the air. Then it leaped the fifty feet between it and the guard tower. It snapped another arrow out of the air mid-leap, then slammed into the side of the tower, driving huge talons deep into the stone and climbing up the side.

The next of the arrows hit the simpleton. This one found its mark, as did the next one. The first hit the big man in the shoulder, the next one took him in the neck. He shivered, but was strong: he didn’t fall. Instead, he stood there and writhed, his features a study in agony.

If it weren’t for the fact that he had just seen his friend utterly destroyed, Barnas would have felt bad for him.

A final arrow made its slow-fast way toward the old man. Barnas felt a smile split his face, for surely the old man was the person behind the evil that had come to the wall this day.

The old man waited…

… waited…

… the simpleton kept twitching, shivering, shaking, kept not falling

… the huge monster that had once been a gentle pet made its way up the tower, tore one of the narrow arrow slits wide open, and shoved its head inside to a choir of screams….

… and the old man waited…

… waited…

… and then dodged.

Barnas blinked, unsure what he had just seen.

Could the old man be a Greater Gift? Could he be one of those types who jumped from place to place or who made himself as smoke?

No. The old man had moved. And not just him, but the chair he was on. It had all shifted.

“How…?”

The screams above Barnas worsened. Then grew silent. The guards that had come from other parts of the wall screamed battle cries. Some drew short bows or crossbows. The woolly/girl/thing dropped among them.

The simpleton stopped shaking. And his eyes were suddenly gone.

Barnas coughed. Not a cough of illness or the cough he made a thousand times a day as he tried to get the ash out of his lungs. This was a sound of pure, perfect panic. It felt like part of his soul shriveling inside him. The choked sound he had just made was all he could muster in the face of what he saw.

The big man’s empty-seeming eyes had disappeared. But not as though he had been tortured, not like they had been burned away with hot spikes or cut away with knives. They seemed instead to have receded into a dark nothing. As though a part of the night sky had found its way to the man’s skull and cast a dark spell that extinguished any light around it.

And, along with the man’s eyes, any sense of a feeble mind seemed to have disappeared. He ran at the wall.

Except for places – like here – where the wall had fallen into disrepair, the insides of the wall were smooth, hard to scale.

But the outsides were another matter. It was only the work of a moment for the man to climb the wall. To flip himself over the edge. To land in the midst of half a dozen wall guards.

And to kill them all.

He moved so fast he was a blur, a streak followed by swaths of crimson as he spilled the blood of the six guards. They didn’t even get to attempt a defense, let alone a counter-attack. They simply fell.

The man didn’t use a weapon. Just his hands. His feet. His nails.

His teeth.

About the Author

Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally-bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award nominee, and a produced screenwriter. He also makes amazing waffles.
Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sword-Chronicles-Child-Sorrows-ebook/dp/B01HDQWE6G

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