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SIGNED – Slayer (Darkblade #3)


The Hunter has set his sights on new prey.

Abiarazi. Master manipulators, bloodthirsty, and cruel. Demons of nightmare.

His hunt for the monstrosities prowling among mankind takes him to the top of the highest mountain peak on Einan…

…where he stumbles across an ancient city and people forgotten by time.

Amidst the ruins and relics of a long-dead race, his vendetta against the demons will drag him ever-deeper into a millennia-old war for conquest and an enslaved nation’s desperate fight for freedom.

His skills as assassin will be put to the ultimate test: battling an enemy even he may not be strong enough to kill.

Yet should he fail, the cost will be high, for the first victim to die in the ensuing bloodshed will be the god-touched boy he has sworn to protect—a child with the power to either shatter or save the world.


(Each paperback is hand-signed and personalized by me. Swag included!)

SIGNED – Slayer (Darkblade #3)

Look Inside

Death howled on the Hunter’s heels.

Where once there had been peace, merely the gentle shushing of the wind whispering across the tall steppe grasses, now the thunder of drumming hooves shattered the silence of the rolling plains. The Hrandari plainsmen thundered down a gently sloping hill, letting out a whooping cry that echoed for leagues in every direction.

Keeper take it! The Hunter’s hands tightened on Elivast’s reins, setting the leather creaking. So much for slipping past unnoticed.

Three weeks of sleepless nights without a fire to drive back the night’s chill. Three weeks of hard riding, pushing the pace until even he was exhausted. Three weeks of relentless anxiety and tension knotting his shoulders as he scanned the seemingly endless horizon for any hint of the wild, ferocious warriors who made their home on the steppes.

They had come so close—the Yathi Mountains, home to the mysterious “Sage” he had come to kill, loomed large just two days’ ride to the northeast—only to be discovered now.

The Hunter glanced over his shoulder. Hailen sat swaddled in heavy robes, his brown hair hidden beneath the hat that shaded his pale, round-cheeked face from the burning sun. He spoke not at all; he hadn’t said a word since they broke their fast on stringy deer jerky and trail biscuits that morning. He might be dozing—after weeks of riding, the boy had grown accustomed to Ash’s plodding pace to sleep in his saddle—but more likely, the Hunter suspected Hailen was lost in the world that only existed within his mind.

Even had Hailen been fully cognizant, the two of them had no hope of outrunning the Hrandari. Ash, the desert pony procured in Aghzaret, was fleet of foot and possessed immense endurance, but the boy on his back could not sustain a swift pace for more than a few leagues before collapsing. Elivast, the Hunter’s mount, was a spirited gelding, but he could not outrun the stocky horses bred to run the steppes.

And where could they run? On the boundless, undulating steppes, they had nowhere to hide, no hills to conceal them from the eyes of the plainsmen, no deep valleys in which to shelter. Flight would prove more than futile—a hard ride would push the already-tired horses and their riders beyond the limits of their endurance.

No, only one course lay open to the Hunter and the boy at his side: they had to face the oncoming Hrandari.

The Hunter reined in Elivast, dismounted, and strode calmly over to Ash to lift Hailen down from his saddle. The boy’s eyes—no longer the shade of deep blue they’d once been, but now a startling, dark violet—were open, but seemed to barely see the Hunter. He slumped listless into the Hunter’s arms and made no protest when the Hunter set him down to sit on a soft patch of short, scrubby steppe grass. Instead, he simply curled up into a ball and fell asleep.

Hailen’s condition worried the Hunter, but at present, he had greater concerns to occupy his mind. A glance behind him revealed the approaching Hrandari closing the distance at a ferocious gallop, a cloud of dust and whooping cries barreling down on the Hunter like an encroaching thunderstorm.

The Hunter set about hobbling the horses—no sense risking Elivast or Ash getting startled by the plainsmen and bolting, leaving them without mounts to finish their journey across the Hrandari Plains. He left the packs where they were, but unstrapped his watered steel sword from his saddle and secured it to his belt.

The drumming hooves and clamoring cries grew louder, and the Hunter turned to face the Hrandari. He adjusted his fingerless gloves, forearm braces, and leather pauldrons, but left his sword in its sheath. No sense antagonizing the plainsmen…yet. Prepared for what was to come, he took up position between Hailen and the approaching riders, his feet planted wide, arms at his side, and head held high.

His stomach clenched as half of the plainsmen unslung their short horsebows, nocked, and loosed all in a single fluid motion. Gritting his jaw, the Hunter made a show of adjusting his fingerless leather gloves and tucking his thumbs into his belt. Despite himself, he couldn’t stop himself from touching the hilt of his sword to soothe his steel-taut nerves as his eyes traced the swarm of dark-shafted arrows whistling toward him.

He felt the first arrow strike the grass half a pace to his right, an impact soft yet terrible for its nearness. The remaining shafts rained down all around him, black sharp-barbed fingers of death slicing through the brilliant noonday sky. Yet none struck flesh, skewering only soft earth. The Hunter did not move until the last thump fell silent. Only then did he turn his head, and found the arrows now formed a wide ring around him, Hailen, and the horses. The famed archery of the Hrandari plainsmen put to use, sending a threat as clear as the war cries reverberating across the steppes.

The plainsmen thundered closer, so close now the Hunter could distinguish every detail of the oncoming warriors: heavy yak-hide coats and gloves, floppy fur-brimmed hats bouncing in time with their galloping horses, leather masks shielding their faces from the wind and sun, short horsebows in their hands and brown-fletched arrows filling their quivers, and long, curved sabers bouncing at their sides. No bright colors among them, only furs, leathers, and fabrics in various hues of muted browns, greys, and black. These were warriors of the Hrandari Plains, undisputed rulers of the steppes, and, at the moment, the only obstacle standing between the Hunter and his destination.

“Kill them all!” hissed the voice of the Hunter’s inner demon. “They threaten you and the boy!”

The Hunter’s jaw tightened. His inner demon's descent into madness had accelerated since Al Hani.

Soulhunger, sheathed at the Hunter’s back, added its voice, pleading for blood. Joined together, the twin presences in his mind became impossible for the Hunter to ignore. Indeed, the ache in his head had actually driven him unconscious the previous day, and they’d lost eight hours of travel while he fought to regain control of his senses.

The Hunter wanted to give in to the demands. His outward calm hid a deep wellspring of burning fury. Hrandari horse archers were unmatched on Einan, but any one of the arrows now driven into the earth around him could just as easily have struck the Hunter’s horses—or, worse, the sleeping Hailen. For that alone, the Hunter ought to butcher every one of the whoresons.

No! The Hunter gritted his teeth, struggling to stay in command. He could feel himself losing the battle against their unintelligible screaming and demands for death. Too much time had elapsed since his last kill and the voices had grown more intrusive, their thoughts difficult to separate from his own. I have no need to kill them all, not when there is another way to get what I want.

The demon’s anger radiated through the Hunter’s mind with staggering intensity. His knees wobbled and his vision wavered, a red haze swimming before his eyes. He felt the desire to lose himself in its depths—as he had the night he slaughtered Lord Knight Moradiss and the Cambionari, and again when he butchered the traitorous Queen Asalah and her henchman, Captain Al-Zahar. The sight of the riders bearing down on him with drawn weapons sent his mind reeling back to the morning, just a few weeks earlier, when he’d stood in the ring of standing stones—magical standing stones—and carved his way through every one of Il Seytani’s raiders. The legendary desert raider had died, choking and suffocating beneath the Hunter’s iron grip, , a fate he’d earned a hundred times over.

The Hunter felt the anger and bloodlust rising within him, like a cauldron of fury threatening to bubble over. His fury was borne of all the suffering that those around him had endured. All the pain he had caused, and the people who had died in his wake. Farida, Old Nan, Jak and Karrl, Bardin, Wyllis and Warryn, Graden, Bristan and Gwen, and so many others. Needless, useless deaths, lives spent in the name of the demons’ hunger for power, or the cruelty and greed of mankind.

He could give in to the voice in his mind, the cold, barbaric voice of his demonic ancestor. As the Hunter of Voramis, he had killed those he deemed deserving of death, and after decades bearing witness to the worst of humanity and demonkind alike—depravities that sickened him, blood shed for nothing more than a few coins, treachery and base betrayal—he knew that few alive could truly claim innocence.

But he could not allow the rage to overwhelm him. Not again. Not here, with Hailen behind him. The Hunter had sworn a promise to Farida’s ghost, and to the dying Father Pietus. He had vowed to protect the boy…this innocent, wonderful, exceptional boy. And so he would. Even if that meant fighting down his inner urges to kill, he would.
The Hunter’s hands twitched, his fingers aching to unsheathe his weapons, but he forced himself to remain motionless. He stared straight at the oncoming riders, his expression impassive and his body still, calm.

The Hrandari warriors closed the remaining distance in a matter of seconds, howling their war cries and thundering straight toward him, as if intending to trample him into the soft, grassy steppes. The Hunter refused to flinch—he was no coward, to meet his death cringing in fear.

When the lead rider was just five paces away, so near the Hunter could feel the heat of the horse’s breath, the column split to the right and left. The plainsmen raced around him in a tight circle, just outside the ring formed by their arrow shafts. Horses flew past a mere hand’s breadth from his folded arms, the wind of their passing whipping his clothing and cloak into a swirling frenzy. For long seconds, only deafening cacophony and blurring figures consumed his world.

Through it all, the Hunter refused to budge. Instinctive fear quaked in his belly—only a fool or madman would not feel a tremor at nearly being trampled by such powerful beasts—but he forced his legs to hold fast, his arms to remain folded across his chest.

A shout echoed from among the circling warriors, and within seconds, the seething mass of horses ground to a halt and stood stock-still in a solid ring around him, Hailen, Elivast, and Ash. The Hunter’s horses stamped and snuffed in fear—theirs the only sound on the suddenly silent steppes.

The Hunter lowered the leather mask worn to shield his face from the wind, dust, and sun, revealing his face to the Hrandari warriors. He held up empty hands, though he had no doubt more than a few of the plainsmen eyed the sword at his side. Some would doubtless entertain thoughts of greed, lusting after such a fine weapon. The cleverer and more cautious of the warriors, however, would focus on the man to whom it belonged.

“A hunter must know his prey before ever he takes aim.” The words echoed through his mind, the first tenet of the Way of the Hunt. The code, instilled into him by a man he could not remember in a life expunged from his memory, had begun returning to him ever since the day he lay dying in the Advanat Desert.

He had no time to contemplate the glimpse into his past. At a single barked command from the leader, thirty-seven bows rose, thirty-seven arrows nocked and trained on him. Only the plainsman who’d given the order remained unmoving. The man—his sharp, resonant voice marked him as male—was utterly concealed from his yak fur-brimmed hat to his leather-booted feet. A thin black veil dangling from his helmet shielded his eyes from the harsh sun and, together with the leather wrap around the lower half of his face, hid his features completely.

The Hunter ignored the arrows trained on him; his gaze fixed on the veiled face of the lead warrior. This, then, was the man to whom he must speak.

“By the laws of the Hrandari Plains,” the Hunter said, his deep voice carrying across the quiet steppes, “I claim the right of passage.”

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Customer Reviews

Based on 8 reviews
chad desruisseaux

SIGNED – Slayer (Darkblade #3)


Great artwork well put together only 100 pages in so far and the story has hooked me 👍👍👍3 thumbs up

They just keep getting better


CW: violence, death, gore, torture, some others

Something’s wrong with Hailen. And since the Hunter’s specialty lies in curing men of their ills by more…permanent means, he’s going to have to find some help. But his heart is still pulling him north, and something big is lurking at the top of a mountain…

Every time I start one of the Dark Blade books, I keep expecting it to fail to live up to the grandeur of the book before it. That has yet to happen. I don’t know what sort of dark sorcery Peloquin has discovered, but if he keeps putting out books of this quality, I won’t ask questions.

As always, our MC has been given a gloriously realized cast of characters to add to his story. They all feel real and complex, and it’s so easy to get attached to them. The world of the Hunter is also incredibly detailed; it really feels like you’re running around with him (though with significantly less blood to get out of your clothing later).

The layers upon layers upon layers of depth to this story are absolutely mind boggling to me, and from start to finish I was in constant awe of how thoroughly everything came into play. You think you know what’s happening, and then you get to the end and it’s just… *extreme emotional damage* for everyone. I actually got chills finishing this one, that’s how good it was. The author also does an amazing job of really making you feel how exhausting all of this is for the Hunter. The books are long, for sure, but you get to the end and you just feel drained, like you’ve personally been fighting the hordes of evil and all of the emotional baggage that comes along with it. It’s astonishing just how much weight this book really has behind it, and it’s fantastic.

A word of caution, though, if the CWs above didn’t give it away: this is, by no means, a lovely little trip through the world of Einan. The Hunter is the very embodiment of a morally gray antihero (and he’s finally starting to come to terms with exactly what that means for him). It’s a glorious journey, but it’s savage. I don’t have a weak stomach, but this book had graphic depictions of torture (and death and violence and…), and it started to make me a little green at times. So, take that into consideration before you start the series.

Having said that, you need to read the series. If dark fantasy is your thing, and you’re good with a really solid depiction of the terrible parts of that sort of world, you’re going to love these books. The writing is solid and the story is absolutely phenomenal!

Debra L
Bring it on!

Book 3 does not disappoint! The action and characters are so real. I felt the Hunters pain and anguish. His joy and sorrow. The series keeps getting better and the world is getting richer with each new character. I am rooting for a demon to beat the odds.

Steve Bonczyk
Fantastic series

This is number 5 and I have to admit getting better with every single one. He shall be sorely missed as the next one is the last. I am expecting a seriously dramatic climax. Very highly recommended.