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The Sundered Oath #1

In the Company of the Dead

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Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.

Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her murdered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile for striking his prince.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.

Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.


Published April 25, 2016

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Ciara Ballintyne

8 books617 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews
Profile Image for Fani.
182 reviews21 followers
August 16, 2017
“She was always in the company of the dead”

The beginning of this book seemed slow to me, as with many fantasy books it took me awhile to get used to the world and the characters. The fact that both main characters were in a dark place when the story started didn’t help.

I got used to the world though, i managed to learn all about the secondary characters and when Lyram and Ellaeva finally met everything became more interesting. The setting, though dark, was perfect for the characters to get to know each other better. Trapped in a castle that was under a siege and with a necromancer on the loose, Lyram and Ellaeva were the only ones who could give orders and find a solution.

Under those circumstances, it became obvious how good was the chemistry between the main characters, who were able to understand each other’s struggles and help ease the pain. Lyram’s wife was murdered a year ago and even though he knew who did it, he could not avenge her without any evidence. As a result, Lyram turned to alcohol to erase the memories of his wife’s murder. It wasn’t until Ellaeva appeared that he started healing and was able to fight back against all the injustices that happened to him.

Lyram though, wasn’t the only one who was struggling, taken from her family at a young age and living an isolated life, Ellaeva was able to understand Lyram’s pain. By going through a harsh training and having the duty of the Battle Priestess of the Goddess of death, Ellaeva was always despised and feared not only by normal people, but by her fellow priestesses too. The only one who was able to see Ellaeva for who she really was, was Lyram.

I loved the beginning of their relationship, when Ellaeva was trying to support Lyram and Lyram wanted to carry Ellaeva’s burden for her. I was really excited to see them go into the next stage of their relationship where after seeing each other’s true self, they would start to fall in love. I couldn’t wait for all those stolen glances at each other when no one was looking and the intimate moments they would secretly have in order to explore their forbidden romance.

Unfortunately though, none of these things happened, we didn’t see the romance between Lyram and Ellaeva unfold, what we got instead was a horrible “love triangle”.
*some spoilers ahead*

No matter what path a romance story takes, whether he is drugged, tricked, blackmailed, threatened, bewitched or he is simply doing it to push away the heroine and protect her from himself, the hero somehow ends ups sleeping with other women after being with the heroine, while the heroine herself remains devoted to him throughout the story and is in many cases a virgin.

That is the case with this book, while Ellaeva is a virgin and remains devoted to Lyram, she sees him having sex with another woman. Granted, the situation was beyond his control and in fact he was definitely bewitched and raped, but the entire thing is glossed over and even though it should have created a rift between them, the main character’s relationship progressed as if nothing happened.

Lyram, who got bewitched, never mentions anything about the incident, we never see what kind of impact that rape had in him. Ellaeva who not only saw Lyram with another woman, but also got physically abused by him, doesn’t complain about it afterwards. In fact, she breaks her vows to her goddess and gives her virginity to him.

After seeing the pattern in so many romance stories, we need to start asking ourselves why every time, even though the authors have many options, they always seem to somehow make the hero sleep with other women, while the virgin or sexually less experienced heroine stays devoted and puts up with everything the hero does.

I voluntarily reviewed the free copy that i received via Reading Alley.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,443 reviews139 followers
May 18, 2017
here, let me just explain the entirety of this book in 2 sentences

priestess in a fantasy novel: oh my what a dashing young man i have been thrown into this situation with. if only i hadn't taken a vow of chastity
me, slowly peeling out my own eyeballs: yes, if only

why. W H Y. WHHHYYYY. The book sounded so amazing and half the time was spent on an awful love triangle and the other half was spent on ...idek, the slowest and most boring siege plot line of all time. Throw in the fact that the main male character's backstory is that his wife was raped and murdered and I'm just sitting here like [screams into pillow]. And then there's the fact that I have an ARC of the second book that I now need to read because I was just so sure I was going to love this. Well I learned my lesson there, never doing that again. Maybe the second one won't be as annoying because they finally banged at the end of this one? Hey, a girl can hope.
Profile Image for Victoria Sandbrook.
Author 9 books44 followers
April 27, 2016
The convoluted politics of men and gods traps a lone-wolf priestess of death and an exiled nobleman in a remote castle during a siege. Alliances are forged and broken in this springboard to an intriguing series.

**WARNING: Some content below is more spoilery than I'd prefer, but I can't do justice to the book's strengths without it. I don't reveal actual plot points, but if you want to be taken for the full ride, skip to "Editor-Brain"**

Writer-Brain: 4/5 Stars.

Editor-Brain: 3/5 Stars. There were a few places where dialogue and/or exposition just wasn't as tight as I'd have liked. This is the problem with  being an editor who reads (or a reader who edits): I get caught up in details that affect the telling of the story and not the story itself. This runs from saying the same thing two different ways in a few paragraphs to words or sentences that could be cut entirely without changing meaning. Will this disturb most readers? Likely no. But it caught me often enough that I couldn't say nothing.

Reader-Brain: 4/5 Stars. So I'm just going to say that I requested this book knowing that I'm not the biggest fan of books set amid an ongoing war/battle with little to no plot relief. I chose it because I've never read a siege book before and wanted to see how I felt about it. And I think it was a good discovery. Not so much fighting or going on about troop positioning or maneuvers: the characters had to be resourceful, swift, and strategic. There were consequences to losing people, no matter how little they mattered to the plot, something I'd argue didn't happen in some other war-centric epic fantasies I've read. And, as I said above, Ballintyne threw me for a loop I enjoyed; I'm putting book 2 on my reading list for 2017.

Disclaimer: I recieved a free digital ARC of this title from Evolved via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Naturalbri (Bri Wignall).
1,008 reviews98 followers
May 5, 2016
This is a proper epic fantasy. WE are given a great plot, but the most important part is the detail. Like any truly great epic, this book is filled with depth and a detail, to create not only a story, but an entire world.

From the start, Ballintyne builds a world round us, with enough detail to really make you feel as though you have stepped into the world. It doesn't stop there. We are also given a cast of characters, who fit the plot, but also fit themselves. They are whole, and created entirely perfect. We are given personalities that match their actions, descriptions so that we can feel as though we are standing next to them and even enough that I truly feel I know the sound of their voice.

With a world and story that have been made so real, this book really takes off when the action kicks in. It reminds me of David Eddings' writing. Everything is woven so well that you become part of the story. It is so captivating that you cannot put the book down.

I was exceptionally pleased with the pace of the book. It started off slow, to give us all the background I spoke of, but slowly the pace crept up. Then we are hit with the action and given twists and turns that are beautiful. I loved every moment and really feel that the book has ended well to set us up for the second book.

Overall, I was impressed and enjoyed reading this book very much. If you are an epic fantasy fan, you are going to need to read this!

**I received this book for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Daniel Cross.
21 reviews14 followers
April 25, 2016
Overall, the novel spends a lot of time with ‘setting the scene’, that is, it builds the scenario and world first before really giving the reader any real action. The first half of the book is rather slow and some perseverance is needed. The second half however, is blistering in comparison; there is action, intrigue, and justice! The author has managed to add many different elements of magic and these work very well, they are detailed brilliantly and have a real purpose to them. The God(s) play a lesser role in this tale, however there influence is felt throughout and this subtlety works well within the novel because the vessel for the God – Ellaeva – is a fantastic character.

I think fantasy readers will enjoy this novel as there are lots of classical fantasy elements within this; heroes, magic, war, and gods. For those readers who like a slower pace and their action built up to over a longer period of time then they will really enjoy this. For readers who want to be thrust into the novel and who want to be shoved headlong into the action, they may find this a little slow.
All-in-all this is a good novel with lots of fantasy elements and well-rounded characters.


visit dancrossbookblog.wordpress.com for the full review
Profile Image for Ken Hughes.
Author 33 books60 followers
April 26, 2016
The best thing about a siege is that everything is liable to happen.

Ciara Ballintyne writes adventurous tales that revel in their sense of sheer fun, and IN THE COMPANY OF THE DEAD takes that to a proper battlefield-sized fantasy. Between the gallant but disgraced general and the priestess of Death And Justice, the tale gives us rampaging undead, the schemes of vast nations and small-minded men, holy powers, true love denied, and the clash of armies. All the good stuff.

First among equals here might be the setting. This is the story of a small force holding a siege against a larger one, and every word about claymores, battering rams, and the struggle to preserve food rings true. I’ve read stories that put me deeper into the military environment, but this does enough to make each of its plot points work cleanly and never lets me forget where we are.

As heroes go, Lyram makes a fine commander, equal to almost all the challenges he faces if it weren’t for those old guilts we know he’ll shake off soon. And Battle Priestess Ellaeva is stronger yet, and not quite as haunted… as far as she knows.

This is a solid adventure with more than a bit of everything, all fitted nicely together without turning too intricate or running long. It’s meant to be enjoyed, and it will be.
Profile Image for T..
Author 13 books566 followers
May 3, 2016
I received In the Company of the Dead as a review copy from the publisher, Evolved Publishing. The gifting did not determine the review/rating, which reflects my honest opinion. While the story itself was a little longer than I felt necessary (a couple tangents I don't feel added to the plot-- in fact they poked the line of credibility-- Yes, ironic as we have sorcerers and necromancers here), the writing was excellent and kept me up most the night so I could finish. Great characters and detailed worldbuilding made the novel fast-paced and interesting. Nice, love-to-hate-em villains and subplots kept me guessing on motives and how the issues would get resolved.
Profile Image for Seraphia.
1,825 reviews24 followers
September 13, 2016
*** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review of it. All of the opinions stated in this review are solely my own and no one else’s. ***
In the Company of the Dead Book One of the Sundered Oath by Ciara Ballintyne is a story centered around a young woman, Ellaeva, who is a priestess to the death goddess Ahura and Lyram Aharris, an exiled noble who is grieving the loss of his murdered wife. Ellaeva is looking for the priest of Rahmyr who murdered her parents and in her quest some information that she obtains leads her to the castle where Lyram will soon find himself besieged by an enemy who seeks not only his destruction but who also is working very hard to destroy Ellaeva as well. Lyram will see the danger as simply focused on himself and that is a political and personal ploy by a prince he despises by things go much deeper than he could possibly imagine.
This is a really good epic fantasy. Now I’ll admit that for the first half of this book most of the focus is on Lyram as he battles against the enemies who have laid siege to the castle that he is posted at. When Ellaeva wanders into the battlefield that surrounds the castle soon after the siege is noticed to be taking place he rushes out to try and save her but they end up benefiting each other in getting back to the castle unscathed. But the story soon branches out and begins to bring in other elements and the variety of characters as danger is soon discovered to be lurking inside their very walls that could lead to their destruction if not rooted out and destroyed.
This book really engages you from the beginning but when you get to the halfway point this story really grabs you and holds you down wanting to know more all the way up to the very end. Lyram and Ellaeva have a really good chemistry as the two main characters and you can see things begin to piece themselves together. She is trying to keep him safe from being taken off the playing field that will jeopardize a future that needs him. The characters in this story are really relatable and easy to gravitate toward. The author does a really good job weaving this story and keeping you on your toes as you try to figure out who could possibly be the one behind all the different factions operating against the two main characters.
I really enjoyed this book and am very eagerly anticipating the next book in this series to find out what happens next with these two characters and all those who are still left after all the battles are fought and won and lost. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and two thumbs up. The author has really done a great job with this story. I really had a hard time putting it down and I'm sure you will too. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Rebecca Sarah.
28 reviews3 followers
May 8, 2016
First off--the research that must have gone into crafting this castle siege blows my mind (unless Ballintyne already knew these words that I had to look up, in which case my mind is blown even more). I wasn't expecting the novel to be a giant battle, so that did throw me off once I realized it. That being said, I am super impressed by all the conflicts that Ballintyne came up with. Her writing be like, "You soldiers feeling confident? Well, now your food supply is tainted. Now there's spectres that can kill you. Now there's people burrowing underneath the castle. Now your commander is seduced by crazy lady." Sheesh. It actually made me feel exhausted as a reader. The poor soldiers never got a break. And each time Lyram and Ellaeva were brutally injured but continued to fight...blegh.

I really enjoyed Ballintyne's writing style, particularly the descriptions and metaphors. Her writing was strong throughout. At times I thought the plot dragged, but the writing was great so I didn't mind. Lyram and Elleava were emotional and raw without being annoying or melodramatic (although sometimes I wanted to wring Elleava's neck--just let Lyram in, already!). I felt sorrow for Ellaeva's plight and horror at what happened to Lyram's wife. I do wish there had been some more romantic chemistry in the beginning. It felt a bit platonic to me at first, and then it seemed sudden that they were attracted to each other. I also wish I'd gotten to see a bit more of Everard and Galdron. Perhaps in the next book? Well, except for Galdron, I suppose...

Overall: Strong writing, good world-building with all the terminology and the different gods, conflicted characters, ever-changing plot, intrigue, betrayal, and all the goodies of a good vs. evil battle.

P.S. Ciara Ballintyne is the coolest name ever.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for James Latimer.
Author 1 book22 followers
January 21, 2019
I can't remember why I picked up this book, I'm glad I did. I must have been attracted by the central siege-with-hidden-dangers plot summary, and it definitely delivered on that. The writing style is a bit on the wordy side, for me, which slowed the pace down in places - mostly at the beginning - and I had a few quibbles with the tactics (though I don't claim to be an expert) here and there, but I enjoyed the tension and the mystery, and the interaction of the two flawed-yet-heroic main characters.

Reminded me a lot of Martha Wells The Element of Fire, which isn't a bad thing!

(Also, FYI, in my ebook edition the actual book was only 90% of it - the rest is extras - which helped explain some of my perception of slow progress and strange pacing - it was actually just about right.)
Profile Image for Jessica Bronder.
2,015 reviews23 followers
January 6, 2017
Ellaeva is a Battle Priestess and on the hunt for the priest that murdered her parents. But being a priestess means she has to follow the orders of the goddess Ahura, those orders are to save a man that will be greatly needed in the future. Lyram has been banished after striking the prince. He spends his days drinking himself into a stupor over the loss of his wife. Lyram finds his castle under siege and thinks it is because he is third in line for the throne. But it really is a plan to take out both Ellaeva and Lyram at the same time.

This is the start of a new epic fantasy story. There are so many things happening to so many people that in true form the story starts out slowly while it builds the world around you. But once you get a feel for this world the pace starts picking up. Until you are rushing headlong to the end with a twist you won’t expect.

This is a great story that had me up into the early hours of the night wanting to know what happened next. Both Ellaeva and Lyram are not the snow white, perfect person but are flawed which makes you like them. Both are trying to exact revenge yet have to try and survive the siege first.

This is a great start to a new fantasy series and one that I recommend checking out. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

I received In the Company of the Dead from Candid Book Reviews for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
23 reviews10 followers
March 31, 2021
This was a really engaging, fast paced, multi-layered epic. The world building was original and believable. The MCs were 3 dimensional and engaging, the story kept the pages turning.
My only criticism was at the beginning it was slowed in places with too much analysis, I'd rather work it out for myself, but maybe others don't.
All in all it's a world I'd like to return to and characters I'd like to meet again. It's a great read.
Profile Image for Feyheart.
1,240 reviews12 followers
April 23, 2018
Couldn't get into it. Very slow and political. I didn't read more than a few chapters before it was just too dull for me. It could speed up and become better later on. Given free copy of this book for an honest review.
5,698 reviews36 followers
October 17, 2016
This was interesting. it was fast paced and at times i had to wrack my brain to remember what character was who. It had a lot of love to hate villans though and that was so much fun. I enjoyed the characters. I didn't think it needed to be quite as long as it was only because some places seemed to drag for me.. But overall the storyline was good and the characters were good :)
Profile Image for Dee Krull.
Author 8 books18 followers
June 12, 2016
In the Company of the Dead
Ciara Ballentine

Review by Dee Krull

This story has a little of everything; mystery, intrigue, forbidden love, valor, magic and action packed battles. The author has done her research and it is very well written. It makes you laugh, cry, and a few of the scenes were downright scary.
In times of dragons, Gods and Goddesses and dark magic you have to be on your guard and if you live in a castle when men and women alike, wielded swords to save life and limb, life is hard and often short.
Lyrm Aharris has been exiled to the remote corner of the king’s lands; son of a Duke, King’s Sword and chief military advisor to the King of Ahlleyn, he is now suspected of killing his wife Zaheva. She was the love of his life and as an exile he has succumbed to drinking his sorrows away; leaving, Everard, his trusted “aid to the camp,” to worry about his state of mind.
After twelve months of exile, because he insulted the prince of Ahlleyn, an army of mercenaries camp outside the old walls of the Caisteal Aingeal; also known as Castle of the Angel of Death, because of the Priestess’ of Ahura who live there. He is offered the lives of his men and the people who live inside the castle walls, but only if he goes willingly. The question is; to his death, imprisonment, or is there another reason behind this invasion? So the mystery begins and a battle ensues. How can a small regiment of men and farmers stand against an army of two thousand?
Before the attack Lyram makes a plan to give himself up even though his men would rather fight for him. Before the battle begins his plan is thwarted by the arrival of Ellaeva, Battle Priestess to Ahura “Goddess of Death, Truth, and Justice.” After she saves his life she tells him she has come to save him and the castle from this army in the name of the Goddess she serves; or has she?
They are attracted to each other; unknowing at first, but the writing is on the wall. She is forbidden love by her oath to Ahura and he is still in love with his dead wife; there is no hope for love between them. Ellaeva has information that there is a Rahmyrrim in their midst; a necromancer in service to Rahmyr, “The Goddess of Decay, Despair and Corruption.” As a Battle Priestess she has the power of Ahura’s magic to find and kill this dark and deadly scourge. Called “The Left Hand of Death,” Ellaeva has no friends; most are afraid of her, but Lyram treats her as he would any soldier in his service; as an equal. His friendship makes her question the life she has lived and what life means to her.
Battles begin and many die from battle, illness and dark magic and no one knows how they will stay alive to see another day as they fight for their lives against evil worse than any known to mankind.
I choose not to reveal the mystery and suspense of this story but I do have a downside as well. When I started reading I found there to be too much description of armor, battlements and old English names for many of the props in the story. I was board and wished I hadn’t agreed to review this book. However, the more I read the more believable I found the characters and the more I was drawn into their plight. I do recommend this book for those who like fantasy based on factual styled events. I have given this book four stars; only because of the overwriting and there were many mistakes throughout the second half of the book. It really needs to be re-edited as do many books out there; including those published by traditional publishers. This was a five star read if you enjoy this genera. I would recommend reading it.

Profile Image for Maria Reynoso.
145 reviews2 followers
September 24, 2016
I received a copy of In the Company of the Dead in exchange for my honest review. I absolutely loved this book. It started off slow while weaving the background of the characters and the area. The back stories to all of the characters, castles, and gods were fantastically researched. We are introduced to Lyram, a noble outcast who drinks away his woes and Ellaeva, a Battle Priestess who has come to aid Lyram. Ellaeva and Lyram have to work together while fighting against their attraction in order to save their world. Ms. Ballintyne has woven a take of magic, mirth, political intrigue, love, loss, and the affects of having gods interfere with the human race. I will not go in to the plot nor will I divulge what takes place. Since this the first book from Ms. Ballintyne that I have read, I look forward to reading the rest of the books and any other books/series that she has written. If you like murder, magic, mayhem, mystery, and political intrigue, I highly recommend this book and author. Thank you for allowing me to read your book.
Profile Image for Lauren Jones.
416 reviews11 followers
September 24, 2016
A faint smile curved her lips, though it held no mirth. “Few like me, Lord Aharris. People aren’t fond of those who are prepared to do the hard jobs that they themselves fear to do.” Wasn’t that the cold hard truth? Recriminations abounded after the Siege of Invergahr, with many people telling him what he ought to have done. Easy to offer an opinion afterwards, when they weren’t present at the time. Someone had needed to make the decisions. That someone was him, and there were no good choices.

If death came to your front door, dressed in a black robe and as a beautiful man/woman--what would be your first thought? Would you let them in--even if they said that they were there to help you evade death? Would you turn them away, knowing that they would probably be able to get what they came for--regardless of your cooperation? Ballintyne has a riveting book of fantasy, one filled with dragons and goddesses. She fills her readers’ heads with fantasy and danger, leaving entertainment and excitement in its wake.

Lyram is the commanding officer of "the castle of angels", which has now fallen victim to siege. He was exiled for striking the prince, leaving the King forced to belay punishment. After his wife was murdered, he makes a promise to find vengeance against the one(s) responsible...but he is not alone. The left hand of Death, Ellaeva comes to assist him--her primarily goal being to keep him alive...and to find out who killed her parents. Coincidentally, a necromancer in allegiance with the god of decay has run amuck and tampered with all of their food, making some very ill and unable to recover. With little food and nowhere to hide, Lyram and Ellaeva must face the oncoming battle that is just at his gates...and within the castle. When all seems to be at the breaking point, what else could possibly cause more strife...other than finding out the person(s) responsible for his wife's death is untouchable without possibly committing treason? What matters more--loyalty to the king or loyalty to your word?

Ballintyne has a superb story-line with fantastic character development. All of her characters have such depth that will intrigue the reader and allow them to feel emotions like sympathy and pride. The book is very lengthy, but fast-paced after the initial character introductions. It is also well-written, with little or no errors. If you are a reader of fantasy, science-fiction and/or mythical stories, you may want to add this to your reading list.

A free copy was exchanged for an honest review of this fictional piece.
Profile Image for Chris Sanford.
67 reviews
September 23, 2016
Ballintyne has done an excellent job weaving the indepth, backstabbing nature of politics and of the gods in this stunning beginning of this Dark Fantasy Series. Although a battle/ siege story it does not get so wrapped up in the battle to drag the plot. The characters development and descriptions throughout help drive the mystery of the story as well as the pace. Ellaeva, the goddess of death's Battle Priestess, is in a great struggle between her need for revenge and her duty to the goddess. To make matters worse, because of her station she is always alone on a path she did not chose but was chosen for her at the age of five and this places internal struggles on her as she yearns for situations she vowed against. Her personal struggles and human side make her far more believable and like able than the cold perfect priestess of death. In the same way Lyram caught up in politics due to his position by birth, and in a state of rage due to evil men and the horrific death of his wife, shows his faults and mistakes in his emotions, grief, and rage, helping the reader form a bond with him and a need for vengeance, even through his flaws.
Ballintyne's character development is not the only thing that hooked me in this read. Her detailed descriptions of the fights with the army and the monsters, the setting like the castle, the enemies and my favorite the weapons and clothes, specifically the kilts, made the story come alive. I also enjoyed the authors ability to toy with the plot and characters, setting up the interest to not only read on but an urge to get my hands on the next book . The big reveal was not expected at all and because I was so intrigued when it happened it worked to only fuel more questions and interest in the next book. I am not often surprised but this great adventure did just that.
Profile Image for Debbie Elholm.
71 reviews10 followers
October 30, 2016
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. I read this book in 2 days! It was that good. For some readers, they may think this is a slow moving book, but keep reading. Ballintyne builds her world slowly, allowing you, the reader, to understand and know the characters, the gods and the politics. When the castle is under siege, the action really cranks up. I knew who the necromancer was before our heroes figured it out. Maybe, it's because I read a lot of mysteries. While I'm not into politics, this book made me care about the characters that were caught up in the politics, not only of man, but of their gods. The book opens with Ellaeva, a Death Priestess of Ahura, who is looking for the necromancer who killed her parents. But since she is in service to a goddess, she has no choice but to do what goddess wants, which is to "save" a fallen commander; not only from himself, but from other, more dangerous foes. The commander, Lyram is trying to drink himself into forgetting his wife's murder and the man who did it. He was banished from court for striking the prince, so here he is drinking his life away in exile, at a border castle. As he and the soldiers try to figure out why there is an army approaching them, Ellaeva shows up. While Lyram isn't pleased with Ellaeva, he knows better than to cross a Death Priestess, much less the goddess Ahura.
I am so looking forward to the next book!
32 reviews
September 24, 2016
This is the story of Ellaeva, a Battle Priestess avoided or shunned by the world, and Lyram, an outcast drunken noble. When they find themselves on the same side defending Lyram's beseiged castle, they become reluctant allies who must find out who is beseiging Lyram and why does this person want him dead? Ballintyne's knowledge of castles and seige machines and techniques were quite good, as were her battle and fight scenes - bloody and awful. Just what you would expect from a Battle Priestess in a seige. As well as the intrigue surrounding them, Ellaeva and Lyram fight a growing attraction for each other. If either slips and goes too far, Ellaeva's Goddess of Death (who demands chastity of her devotees), will do her best to punish them terribly. Ballintyne's magic was nicely balanced in this world. Powerful, but not too much so, and every act had a clear price to make it realistic. I could easily imagine stepping into this world and all of its great detail. If you like magic, mystery, intrigue and conflict, I think you will like this. I did.
Profile Image for Hannah.
215 reviews1 follower
January 2, 2017
In the Company of the Dead was absolutely fantastic. This story line had me guessing from beginning to end about what was going to happen next. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were written with such depth and description that you feel as though you are right there with them while reading. I could not put this book down. This is definitely a must read.

Ellaeva was chosen at five years old to be the right hand of death. She grew up with people fearing her and no family. Her passion is to avenge her parents murder, but she must follow the godess' orders first and foremost. When her duty takes her to the same place that she can exact her revenge, she jumps on the opportunity, but not everything is as it seems.

Lyram is third in line to the throne, but after his wife's murder and striking his prince, he is exiled to "the lonely castle." While there, the castle is attacked unexpectedly, and they discover a mole in the gates. He wonders if the prince does not mean to have him killed. Will he be able to survive the turmoil of war?
138 reviews7 followers
September 22, 2016
I loved this book! After reading some trashy romance novels for the past several months it was so nice to dive into a good epic fantasy tale. I can't wait to read to the next book.

It was a long book, but I really like that. The author took her time building up her world. It was a bit slow for like the first half of the book, I will admit that. Personally though the author managed to keep my attention through that with the introduction of the characters.

And oh the characters! No bland, generic characters here. They were so well written. The entire book was well written. I honestly haven't been so drawn into a fantasy novel since I first read the books by Jacqueline Carey.

I receieved this book for free in exchange for my honest review and I am so happy that I did. This book had me drawn in right from the first line.
Profile Image for Jessica Mitchell.
2,054 reviews17 followers
October 29, 2016
Revenge is all Ellaeva knows. Fueled by it since she was four years old. She is on the hunt to get her man, the Rahmyrrims. She is known by many names and the main one would be the priestess of death. So when she gets information about a possible sighting, she has no choice but to follow through. What she wasn't planning, was to help a exiled military advisor stay alive too.
Lyram was the main military advisor of the king. Till a little alteration in court. Now on at a border castle. He must wait for when he can return and find his revenge of his wife. But all is not what it seems. Lies, revenge, hatred and decit are in the mist. When two souls come together, will the power of the goddess be enough to keep them alive to the end?
Profile Image for AK Mama Reads.
453 reviews45 followers
May 5, 2016
This was a great fantasy with sweeping scenes full of mysticism and excitement. I found myself immediately drawn into the mysterious world Ballintyne paints, and wanting to know the story behind some of the more obscure characters and places that are referenced. Although there were a few times that I was just about holding my breath, I wouldn't call this a nail biter in the sense of psychological suspense, but more of an intense and multi-layered fantasy rich with seemingly real problems, and real people. I greatly enjoyed this review opportunity and look forward to reading more from this author in the future!
89 reviews
September 20, 2016
What a book. It has a lot going fo it. Fast past,love,hate, mystrey. I could not put the book down. The way it was written it is toke you are there and can see everything, and can hear what it going on. Not my usual read. But, if you want to see what all the fuss is about,grab your copy and your favorite drink and turn the world off you wot want to miss anything. Lol
I received a free copy for an honest.
Profile Image for Tabitha Ormiston-Smith.
Author 60 books51 followers
October 16, 2016
In the grand old tradition of High Fantasy, this dark and doleful tale cannot fail to please lovers of Tolkien, Jordan and Mallory. It harks back to the Good Old Days of fantasy, when heroes were heroes and were concerned more with honour and the eternal than with sex and witty one-liners.

Caught in a tragic juxtaposition, a hero and heroine tread out their doom, although at the end of the book, a slight ray of hope pierces the gloom. I could hardly put it down.
Profile Image for PJ Lea.
1,064 reviews
April 3, 2016
An epic tale of fantasy, death and betrayal. A very long book, though it is worth reading every page.
Fascinating characters with complex emotions and interactions. Full of intrigue, gruesome battles, and magic, with an undercurrent of passion and rage. A thrilling introduction to this epic fantasy series!
*This was an ARC, my opinions are my own.*
Profile Image for Janelle.
67 reviews62 followers
September 22, 2016
A fast-paced, enjoyable read with interesting characters to root for.
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