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

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  1,063 ratings  ·  185 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
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

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 pa
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
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
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)
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
Zachary Jernigan
OBJECTIVE RATING (my best stab at looking at the book's merits, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it all that much): 4.5

PERSONAL RATING (how much the book "worked" for me personally): 4.5

In the acknowledgements, Salyards thanks his agent for "believing in fantasy more intimate than epic." Clearly, he's thought a great deal about the impact this book will have on the right reader. For myself, I was riveted--not only by the fight scenes, of which there are many, well crafted; nor by the world
Mar 24, 2014 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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,
Timothy Ward
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.

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
Craig Slater
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
Paul Nelson
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
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
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

Read the combined review of Scourge Of The Betrayer and Veil Of The Deserters over at Fantasy Book Critic
Brandon Zarzyczny
I really loved this book, and it's probably one of the most original fantasy books that I've ever read. The world itself is relatively bare-bones, but the style of story telling is amazing. My only real problem with the book is that it's relatively short, and because of the nature of the character narration/perspective the story is very limited. The main character and only viewpoint is that of a relatively helpless scribe that is hired to chronicle everything that happens with the company of sol ...more
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
K.L. Schwengel
There are very few books I can't put down to the point of staying up longer than I should, neglecting to make dinner, or putting off a long list of Things That Must Get Done. Jeff Salyard's debut novel Scourge of the Betrayer was such a book. Not for the faint of heart or those with tender sensibilities, Salyard weaves a tale told through the eyes of Arkamondos - Arki -- a scribe whose new patron is much more than he bargained for. There is very little back-story. Events unfold just as Arki sees ...more
Scourge pulled me in from the first page. I liked Salyard's pacing and the way he imbued his characters with a healthy dose of danger and ambiguity. It's a rough-and-tumble book of soldiers and secret missions, and the author releases the tidbits judiciously, keeping the reader drawn along. The characterizations of the main characters are first-rate and Salyards keeps the character count reasonable. Others you meet along the way (it's mostly a quest story) are also convincingly drawn and backsto ...more
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.
When I caught Nick Sharp's review at Elitist Book Reviews, I knew Scourge of the Betrayer was exactly the type of dark, dirty, vulgar, blood-letting, gritty fantasy that I truly enjoy and actively seek out. This is Jeff Salyards' debut and is quite the setup for the next book, but worth every moment to read this remarkable book. Interesting character development and told from a different perspective. Great job!
I bought this book, almost finished it... so close... and then... I LOST THE FREAKING BOOK.

I kinda want to throw a tantrum. I've been looking for this book for months. I. Can't. Find. It. So I've rated this book four because I so far, as far as I know, it's a four.

Kat  Hooper
Arkamondos the scribe has just been given a new and unusual commission. He’s been hired by a notorious band of Syldoon soldiers to travel with them and observe and transcribe their adventures. The leader of this motley crew is Captain Killcoin, a brooding authoritarian figure whose weapon of choice is a frightening looking flail that has magical properties. Killcoin is accompanied by a few loyal companions who are just as scary and tough as he is. Arkamondos is intimidated by all of them, and he ...more
By now maybe you've read the comparisons of Jeff Salyards to Joe Abercrombie, Glen Cook, Richard Morgan, possibly Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont, perhaps Mark Lawrence. After reading SCOURGE OF THE BETRAYER (SotB), I can certainly understand some of these comparisons, with Glen Cook's "Black Company" series potentially being the closest in the running style throughout and the plot focusing on an elite unit of sword-wielders, at least in my opinion.

But let me add another, as I got the same fee
When I read Justin's review for Scourge of the Betrayer, I thought this would be a book I'd love to read. Not too long after I was approached by its author to review it, something which I readily agreed to. It's not often my wishes are catered to this efficiently! And the book was just as good as Justin made it out to be. It's a good military fantasy in the tradition of Glen Cook, a comparison reinforced by the book's narrator, who is a chronicler just as Cook's Croaker is, albeit a lot less mar ...more
Chris Hawks
I've received, read, and reviewed review copies of books before, either won via random internet giveaways, or through dedicated early reviewer programs. But Scourge of the Betrayer marks the first time an author has personally reached out to me and said, "Hey, would you like a copy of my new book to review?" Normally, I'd be flattered, but also a little wary, having been burned more than a couple of times doing advance reviews of fantasy debuts. In this case, however, by the time Jeff Salyards h ...more
Dec 10, 2012 Jacen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Joe Abercrombie
I normally don't bother with reviews but I resolved for this gem I would compose one (perhaps the idea will stick and I'll write alot more of them in the future)

In a genre packed to the rafters with books that are a the size of a small car and weigh about the same Scourge comes across as something of a lightweight in appearance. Squeezing in at around 250 pages this svelte tome sure delivers the goods.
Working with so few pages has its advantages the pace can remain rapid without leaving the st
Roger Bellini

Book Review: “Scourge of the Betrayer” by Jeff Salyards

Please checkout ( ) to read this review in it's correct formatting! Thanks!

Scourge of the Betrayer is an impressive debut to what looks to be an even more impressive world and series. I went into this book with my doubts on how a new fantasy series could pull off efficient world building and character development in just under 300 pages. It seems Jeff Salyards was more than up to the tasks, as the sm
Sep 17, 2013 Mia added it
The services of Arkamondos the scribe were engaged by Captain Braylar, leader of a fearsome band of Syldoon fighters. Braylar is a reticent, tight-lipped man, seemingly interested in providing as little information as possible, making Arki's task more difficult. They embarked on a mysterious journey, with Arki dreaming of fame and fortune at journey's end, as yet ignorant of its many perils.

The tale is told through the eyes of Arki, the newest member of this company. We are introduced to the cha
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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 Book Three
Veil of the Deserters (Bloodsounder's Arc, #2) Chains of the Heretic: Bloodsounder's Arc Book Three Neverland's Library Manifesto UF

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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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