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Scourge of the Betrayer (Bloodsounder's Arc #1)

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  1,639 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
Many tales are told of the Syldoon Empire and its fearsome soldiers, who are known throughout the world for their treachery and atrocities. Some say that the Syldoon eat virgins and babies–or perhaps their own mothers. Arkamondos, a bookish young scribe, suspects that the Syldoon’s dire reputation may have grown in the retelling, but he’s about to find out for himself.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Night Shade Books (first published 2012)
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Mark Lawrence
So, I liked this book a lot. Jeff Salyards is a good story teller and the book leads you on easily - it's never a chore & that's an achievement right there. Most novels have dull spots, Scourge went down smooth and swift.

It's a book with plenty of violence, small scale frays take up a fair portion of the narrative - people aren't simply cut down and forgotten, the combats are detailed and protracted, there are no supermen here.

Scourge of the Betrayer's really novel aspect happens to be one t
Feb 26, 2016 Bookwraiths rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, library, grimdark
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

Scourge of the Betrayer is one of those rare books. A novel that takes the familiar tropes of a particular genre, tweaks them ever so slightly until you (a long time reader) find that your expectations of that genre have been suddenly raised to a new level.

And how did Jeff Salyards do that, you ask?

Well, mainly, he did it by refusing to be confined by the familiar, formulaic pattern of grimdark fantasy. Where most “grims” cover their pages with equal parts gor
Jeff Salyards
Mar 21, 2014 Jeff Salyards added it  ·  (Review from the author)
This is the best book Salyards has written to date. No joke. In the interest of transparency, I have to confess I have a mad man-crush on the guy. In fact, some might accuse me of stalking him. Which is stupid to admit, I know--if someone ever took Salyards out, I'm sure I'd be a serious person of interest.

Anyway, the book is pretty good. Give it a look.
Mogsy (MMOGC)
May 27, 2014 Mogsy (MMOGC) rated it really liked it
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

UPDATED: Interview with the author

If you want to see a cool way to tackle dark fantasy, look no further than this novel. It'd been sitting on my shelf for a while, and earlier this month I finally picked it up. It didn't take more than a few pages for me to realize I was looking at a very special book.

Jeff Salyards' approach to storytelling gave me a very unique experience. For on
Aug 04, 2012 seak rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-review, 2012
Arki, short for Arkamandos, has been hired on as a scribe by a band of Syldoon, the most feared and treacherous soldiers in the world. Why did he accept this work? Well, it seemed a good idea at the time - he just wanted to get out and maybe see a little more adventure.

This may have also been the worst decision of his life.

As mentioned, the Syldoon aren't the kindest of people, nor are they even that pleasant to have a drink with (as we learn early on). They have some sort of plan, of which not
Bob Milne
Apr 17, 2012 Bob Milne rated it liked it
I actually finished Scourge of the Betrayer last week, but it's taken me a few days to decide precisely how to approach a review. It's such an oddly structured novel, and one that forgoes so many genre cliches, I wanted to give myself time to separate the novelty of the reading experience from the story itself.

Most fantasy novels begin with a very clear explanation of who the characters are, what the story is about, and where the story is going; the author immediately defines a goal, a destinati
Jenna Kathleen
Jul 03, 2016 Jenna Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-reads
Reminiscent of The Black Company, only better.
Arki's POV is unique in that he is not truly the protagonist; he is only recording what the main character, Captain Braylar Killcoin, is doing. Most of the time, Arki doesn't know what is happening, and therefore, the reader also doesn't know. Looking at the story through Arki's eyes is such great fun to try to guess what the motivations behind decisions are, and trying to discern when Braylar and the Syldoons are lying to him.
When reading darker fa
Milda Page Runner
Very enjoyable grim-dark fantasy read. Awesome action/fight scenes, savoury cynical characters, plenty of foul language and black humour. Recommended for epic and grim-dark fantasy readers, especially Abercombie and G.Cook fans.

I could’ve chosen any scribe to record this, but I chose you. Among many. And you’ll have the rarest of opportunities to record something exceptional firsthand. For now, I’ll tell you this much. All empires crumble. All borders change. All kingdoms die. Where I’
Oct 25, 2015 Molly rated it really liked it
Not bad, not bad at all.

Rating, 4.5

Despite the pretty low GR rating of 3.54, it was a fairly great first book. Not perfect ... but also without a dull moment.

Review to come ....
May 08, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it
Review from Tenacious Reader:

The final book in the Bloodsounder’s Arc recently released, and the number of trusted sources that not just recommend, but highly recommend the series just could not be ignored any more. What I have heard is this first book is really good, but the next two are amazing. So, I went into this with solid expectations of a good read, and hopes of getting started in a fantastic series.

So far, my friends have not led me astray. The s
Jun 18, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
Updated summer 2016... bit of a review for this book and a bit for the series as a whole.

Really loved this book on a second reading. A superior Fantasy novel. Somewhat Grimdark. Kinda Sword & Sorcery. A wee tad like Joe Abercrombie. Mostly it's own singular thing. Character heavy with some terrific action sequences. Masterful world-building, slowly revealed without dense exposition or infodumps. Gracefully told. The opening book might appear a bit slight at first glance. It's not at all. Go
Jan 09, 2016 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of quest fantasy, military-based stories
Shelves: ebook
Book Info: Genre: Fantasy – Quest fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of quest fantasy, those who enjoy watching someone naïve grow and learn

My Thoughts: This book is told from Arki’s point of view, and as an observant young man and scribe, we’re treated to a much different view of the world than we would have if we were to watch these same events through any of the captain’s team. Watching the events as an outsider was quite fascinating, and I have to give the author props for main
May 29, 2014 Nathan rated it really liked it
Fantasy Review Barn

If I were a scribe who had spent my life dealing with stories from the dullest people in the world would I have taken the opportunity? Would I have dropped what I was doing and taken commission from a band of warriors? Syldoon warriors, men rumored to be the nastiest of nasty; would I have willingly gone with them with no direction and no assurances of what was to come?

Damn right I would.

This is a book that deals with the smaller scale by design. There is no epic war going on,
Feb 15, 2016 Janny added it
I enjoyed this book, which is huge, not being a rabid fan of the grit and the grim. What made it outstanding was the choice of protagonists. Picture a young, naive (somewhat), scribe - educated but wet behind the ears - being hired by what amounts to The Black Company. His plunge into adventure is severe culture shock. But it made the book an edge of the seat read for two reasons:

The witty, black humor dialogue among the company cohorts. The very strange mystery behind their smooth talking capta
Apr 02, 2016 Freakout rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, fantasy
4.5 stars
very good debut
Aug 04, 2016 Samir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed it. Loved it's pacing, mysterious story and great characters which are very well written, especially Captain Killcoin, looking forward to see how he develops further in the story. (view spoiler) Looking forward reading rest of the trilogy.
Mark Medina
Sep 01, 2016 Mark Medina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A decent enough book. Faced paced with plenty of fight scenes, and information about the world is slowly revealed as the book progresses. The lack of chapters was frustrating, but this is just a personal gripe. The ending sets p the next book, which I am now starting on. I am hoping the characters are built on and progress well.
Timothy Ward
May 02, 2014 Timothy Ward rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2014, grimdark
Reviewed at Adventures in SciFi Publishing

Not only are there a lot of Fantasy books out there to choose from, Grimdark no less, but in the next three months I have a large stack of books coming out that are all competing for this genre’s attention. I’m not going to list those other books because Jeff Salyards' book, Scourge of the Betrayer, deserves to be cracked open. You can even enjoy the fact that the sequel, Veil of Deserters, comes out mid-May and picks up right where Scourge left off.

Jul 27, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it
This is a great novel, and it is perfect for fans of military fantasy. The pace of the novel is rather slow, as the author gives every detail of the narrator's experience. The most exciting parts of the novel for me were definitely the battle scenes, but the entire book exudes a sense of realism that is often hard to find in the fantasy genre. As for tone, I found the novel to be a cross between Joe Abercrombie and Glen Cook's novels. This is definitely a unique dark fantasy, and I am looking fo ...more
Paul Nelson
Jun 26, 2012 Paul Nelson rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books-read
Really enjoyed this, my only complaint would be it was to short and deserved to be a bigger novel. The story is excellent and also the characters - there is the goody two shoes scribe Arki who concentrates on not killing anyone, the mysterious Captain Braylar with a sinister possessed flail who is the outstanding character of the book and his company of men who's interaction is often humorous, typical of soldiers who work closely together for long periods of time.
The story is tense and violent a
Tracey the Lizard Queen
Oct 28, 2015 Tracey the Lizard Queen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2015-reads
Solid start to a very intruiging story. I particularly loved the first person POV. Often its quite easy to become de-sensitised to the violence and death in books, but this was refreshing in a sense that the main protaganist is just a lowly scribe completely unused to the soldiering life. A different take on military fantasy, and excicuted very well. I think I will like this series very much!
Marielle Ooms-Voges
Apr 29, 2016 Marielle Ooms-Voges rated it really liked it
I was struggling in the beginning to know who was who and what was going on. But halfway through I really started to enjoy this story. It got better and better and I am now really looking forward to reading book 2.
Sep 03, 2016 PickinDavis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Edit: Original review I tilted to 2 stars. Decreasing to 1 star to offset the authors own rating of 5 stars. Don't be a douchebag author and rate your own book 5 stars.

Scourge of the Betrayer... what to say?

To start with, I may be able to save you some time and money by revising the description of this story to 'Captain Killcoin orders somebody (usually, but not limited to, his own men under his command) to do something, they question his authority, and then we get 10 pages of Killcoin putting o
Apr 29, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
There is more here than meets the eye. Scourge of the Betrayer starts fairly slow and it does take some time to fully grip the reader, but the action is nearly nonstop, and the grit is plentiful, which will appeal to fans of Joe Abercrombie and his ilk. The refreshing perspective of an unsoldierly scholar is incredibly unique. While there are some issues with world building, and some readers might take issue with the perspective the story is being told from, there is plenty here to celebrate. Sc ...more
Oct 21, 2014 Bart rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-read
Very good novel. I particularly liked the intimate writing, rich of details; the realistic approach to how a scribe perceives and experiences the life of soldiers and their skirmishes and battles; and last but not least the that we only get to know the bigger story in a very slow and fragmented way together with Arki. A lot of questions remain unanswered though, so bring on the second book!

4 stars
Mar 05, 2016 Alissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The rest of you can do what you like with your hours. Drink, dice, what have you. Only don’t tussle with the city watch, don’t draw attention to yourself, and don’t spill any blood.”
Vendurro shook his head, “So, lock ourselves in our rooms is what you’re saying?”
Sep 06, 2016 Vera rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
While I generally don't get into military-type stories, something about the reviews sparked my interest in this trilogy. I'm glad I did. Braylar is now one of my favorite characters in literature.
Lynn Williams
Jan 26, 2016 Lynn Williams rated it really liked it
What a great start. Very strong 4 stars.
Scourge of the Betrayer is the first of the Bloodsounder’s Arc series by Jeff Salyards. I really enjoyed this I have to say although when it comes down to writing a review I confess it’s quite difficult.

The story follows a relatively small band of characters, soldiers, on something of a military adventure. We get off to an immediate start and learn in relatively short order a few of the key characters and what they’r
Craig Slater
Jun 03, 2012 Craig Slater rated it really liked it
Like finding a colourful stone in the muck in the bottom of a stream, i can't quite tell if this is a little gem or not.

It's such an... odd and unexpected approach to a 'Fantasy' Novel, that it's difficult to 'label' or judge, for the purpose of a review.

There's not really that much that happens, no big events or conflicts of evil oppressors craving for power and wealth, not a lot of world building, (hints here and there of ‘animosity’ between regions and races), and not a lot of aggression an
I loved it!
I have to admit that at the beginning of the novel I wasn't really expecting to like it that much. But the more I read the more I liked the characters that I disliked at the beginning. The plot got interesting too. It is well written and easily understood.
I really want to read more now. I was shocked when I read the last sentence. it seemed that the events were cut,but oh well can't wait to read the rest!
For a first book, it's really good.
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Grimdark Fantasy: Scourge of the Betrayer [Spoilers] 73 59 Sep 10, 2016 02:10AM  
Grimdark Fantasy: Scourge of the Betrayer [NO spoilers] 40 41 Aug 23, 2016 02:14PM  
Grimdark Fantasy: Scourge of the Betrayer - Author Q&A [Spoilers] 29 37 Jun 21, 2016 08:14PM  
/r/Fantasy Discus...: Author Q&A! 1 18 May 06, 2016 03:09PM  
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I grew up in a small town north of Chicago. While it wasn't Mayberry, with all the doors unlocked and everyone offering each other slices of pie and quaint homilies, it was pretty quiet and sleepy, so I got started early imagining my way into all kinds of other worlds and universes that were loud, chaotic, and full of irrepressible characters and heaps of danger. Massive explosions. Tentacled alie ...more
More about Jeff Salyards...

Other Books in the Series

Bloodsounder's Arc (3 books)
  • Veil of the Deserters (Bloodsounder's Arc, #2)
  • Chains of the Heretic (Bloodsounder's Arc, #3)

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“I'll tell you this much. Men think memories are like murals or statues or truth or whatever happened, never changes none. But that ain't so. They can capture the untruth of something, just as easy. They can change, especially as time leads to time.

To each man himself, his memories seems as solid and factual as a stone mosaic, an urn he could turn around and heft, a flower he could sniff. But when I go inside another, I don't see it or feel it like that. Everything is shimmery, shifting, like it's bathed in mist and shadow, like... like walking down the foggiest street you can think of, with everything looking not like itself at all.”
“Gurdinn ignored him, still speaking to the baron. “I would sooner soak my cock in honey and ask a bear not to bite than trust a Black Noose, my lord.”
Braylar clapped and said, “I wouldn’t have suspected you of such colorful wit, Captain Honeycock. You’re a man of surprising gifts.”
Gurdinn wheeled on him, hand on his sword. “Shut your mouth, right quick.”
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