Jeffrey's Reviews > The Conqueror's Shadow

The Conqueror's Shadow by Ari Marmell
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's review
Apr 14, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, read-in-2011
Read in April, 2011

This is not your bedtime standard fantasy. The hero, if you can call him that, is Corvis Rebaine, a middling magician and ferocious fighter, who at the outset of this bloody and fierce novel leads an army into Denathere, an ancient city in the kingdom of Imphallon. He commands the services of a magical axe, a cannibalistic witch, a murdering group of orgres, and a demon, and who at the beginning of the novel brutally murders hundreds, all to quell the populous, solely to find and secure a magical spellbook hidden in a secret compartment below the city. His brutality is extreme as, for example, he gained the services of the demon by murdering thirteen poor souls to feed it. But his quest is a failure, and he has to secretly flee, with a baron’s daughter as a hostage. Meanwhile his second in command murders hundreds of hostages.

Years later, we find Rebaine married to his former hostage (standard fantasy bs) and living far from civilization, with his two young children, when another invading army again attacks Denathere. It is commanded by Baron Audriss, a brutal leader, who has the services of a demon, a magical dagger, a murderous group of monsters and Rebaine’s second in command. He seems to be following Rebaine’s playbook because he is every bit as bloody and murderous as Rebaine.

Rebaine finds himself drawn into the conflict when some soldiers in Audriss army accost Rebaine’s daughter, which soldiers, Rebaine slaughters in a nice battle scene merely armed with a spade. The soldiers were secretly sent by Audriss solely to draw Rebaine back into warfare. But like every other audacious plan, you should only poke a sleeping bear if you know you can kill it.

Rebaine decides that he must stop Audriss to ensure that his family is protected, and seeks out the former members of his command. First by blackmailing a leader of the ogres to join him, then fighting through a Sidhe infested forest to recruit his cannibalistic witch, and then braving a treacherous mountain climb to reclaim his demon.
Then the battles, betrayals, war, murder and action really begin.

This is not a book for people who want a lovable noble, who inspires his troops, who never kill anyone who is not bad. Rebaine is a battle hardened warrior, who allows his demon to feed on innocents, his witch to kill and eat nobles and promises Ogres and Mercenaries riches that he cannot possibly pay, all as part of his agenda to defeat Audriss, and the campaign to defeat Audriss includes capture, torture, bloodshed and murder.

Plus there are interludes in the midst of the story that go back in time and fill in the gaps.

I thought the story was engrossing, had sparks of humor and a lot of realistic battle scenes. We all know that war involved killing, but here its front and center, with no niceties.

Its all good and bad, but it makes an engrossing fantasy and a really fast read.

The sequel, A Warrior's Legacy is presently out in hardcover. So you can scoop both up right now. It would be a good choice.
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04/10/2011 page 189

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