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Where Loyalties Lie

(Best Laid Plans #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  643 ratings  ·  103 reviews
Everybody knows Captain Drake Morass is only out for himself.

As the fires of a dying city burn on a distant shore, Drake sees an opportunity to unite the other pirate Captains under his flag and claim a crown for himself. If he is to succeed, he will need allies and the Oracle named Keelin Stillwater, the best swordsman in the isles, as his right hand.

With enemy ships sa
Paperback, 371 pages
Published May 26th 2017 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
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Joe Yup, there are - some hinted at, some more explicit and some things which may not be what you expect. There are creatures not of our world, people wit…moreYup, there are - some hinted at, some more explicit and some things which may not be what you expect. There are creatures not of our world, people with magically enhanced strength, haunted islands and lots more if that appeals to you.(less)
Rob Hayes Yes. This series does take place after the events of The Ties that Bind, but both series are designed to be read independently of each other.

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James Tivendale
*This book was my choice for Fantasy Book Review in the SPFBO and it WONNN!!!! Currently, this book is the 2nd highest rated (after French's The Grey Bastards) out of approximately 900 books! Check the link for more info.

Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in The Best Laid Plans duology and will be followed up by The Fifth Empire of Man shortly. This novel was assigned to me as part of Fantasy Book Review's contribution to the Self Published Fantasy Blo
Mark Lawrence

Winner of the third Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) contest!

Over a thousand books have sailed into the jaws of the SPFBO. And from that Helen-worthy armada 40 finalists have been selected over the years. And in all that time only two books have scored higher than this one.

Check out the contest here:

So you really don't need me to convince you to read this book.

This is a rollicking tale of pirates doing ... pirate things. Those of you not of a marit
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: grimdark & pirates fantasy
Recommended to Petrik by: Celeste
3.5/5 stars

Ahoy, mate! This was a fun and engaging grimdark pirate adventure.

Some of you most likely know about Where Loyalties Lie (WLL) from this year SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off) competition that’s being held by Mark Lawrence. This book is currently leading the competition and has a strong chance of actually winning it or becoming the second place; it’s pretty much guaranteed now. However, I want to clarify that although I’m one of the judges for the competition, I’m not reviewing
Mark Lawrence
Nearly a thousand books have sailed into the jaws of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO). And from that Helen-worthy armada 30 finalists have been selected over the years. And in all that time only one book has scored higher than this one.

So you really don't need me to convince you to read this book.

This is a rollicking tale of pirates doing ... pirate things. Those of you not of a maritime bent will be pleased to hear that there isn't much of a focus on the mechanics of ships or the te
Nimrod Daniel
Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in The Best Laid Plans duology. Chronologically, the events in this duology occur after the events of The Tides That Binds trilogy, but you definitely can just dive into WLL and you’ll feel comfortable, exactly like I did.

In short – WLL is all about pirates! A lot of pirates, quite a few ships and a lot of fun. Actually the chapters are named after ships, kind of a Point of Ship chapters, following its captain. It works really great, as the switch between c
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

💀 DNF at 76%.

I was painfully listening to this delightful tale on my phone last month when that piece worthless of puny human technology decided to die on me (Dr Prawn—the family physician—says it probably developed some sort of deadly allergy to this book). I never bothered to download the audio again, for some very strange and mysterious reason. And here we are and stuff.

So. This is the third time I give a Rob J. Hayes book a try. See my rating? Yeah, well, goes to show that whoever said “th
Scott  Hitchcock

It's not a bad book. It's just that it didn't offer me anything new in the pirate genre and what it did offer has been done before and better. The pacing was also slow and I never really warmed to any of the characters. I'd also, and please don't crucify me there's no real way to phase this right, avoid this if rape is on your to be avoided at all cost list.

If you're in the market for an easy read that's totally straightforward and has most of the standard pirate grimdark markings you'l
The Nerd Book Review
I have an interview recorded that will be available in April on the podcast. The Nerd Book Review

A flintlock pirate fantasy with a little magic thrown in.

I’m giving this book a 4.5 stars and not a true 5 for 1 reason and 1 reason only. The reason is that the pirate ships had no cannons! I loved the story and thought the politics and scheming were done extremely well but I missed the damned ship to ship battles that could have been. If there hadn’t been small guns I wouldn’t have thought twice a
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pirate-mania
A pirate adventure as it should be written. Plenty of action, laughs, and more than a few cringe-worthy scenes that will keep you entertained until the very end.

Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in Rob Hayes’ Best Laid Plans duology, and the second series in his First Earth Saga universe. The story follows three pirate captains; Drake Morrass – Captain of The Fortune, Keelin Stillwater – Captain of The Phoenix, and Elaina Black – Captain of Starry Dawn. The empires of Sarth and the Five King
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a current semi finalist and holy shit was it amazing. I haven’t read a good pirate story in a long time and this one blew me away. Awesome characters, awesome plot, awesome dialogue, fucking gritty (180 fucks given in this book, not for those who don’t like cursing).
I have a lot of good things to say about this one.

Bingo: Self Published, Sea Faring, 2017, audiobook Possibly over 50, pending author response


The main characters in this story are all pirates from different ships with di
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

My rating is 3.5 stars.

Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in the Best Laid Plans duology from Rob J. Hayes; a sequel of sorts to his The Ties That Bind trilogy, but one where no knowledge of the former is required to enjoy the later. And for those unfamiliar with what they will be getting when picking up this new, pirate epic from Hayes, please understand this author is a no holds barred grimdark master, whose characters are violent, profane, and without ver
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review now posted!
You can find this review and more at Booknest.

In my review for Red Seas Under Red Skies I mentioned that I was of the belief that there weren’t enough pirates in fantasy fiction. Well, guess what? I found more pirates! Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in Rob J. Hayes’ new duology, Best Laid Plans. And it is all pirates, all the time. It was so much fun!

There are multiple perspective characters here, with each perspective listed by ship instead of by any individual cha
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Grimdark on the high seas! Sweeter words have never been spoken. I’ve always had a taste for maritime fantasy, so when the chance arose to review Where Loyalties Lie, how could I say no? And the fact that it has pirates in it was simply the icing on the cake.

But while I’d never before had the pleasure of reading Rob J. Hayes, I’m familiar enough with his style to know that his pirates would be the real deal—not the water
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spfbo
This was a book I was kindly sent by the author and which I needed to read in order to judge the SPFBO awards being run by Mark Lawrence. I really think it's a book I would have picked up anyway, because of the great cover and the fact that it's about Pirates (which I really enjoy), but as it is I'm glad SPFBO made me pick it up sooner as it's so worth the read-through!

What I most liked about this, is certainly the pirate setting. We're constantly on the high seas, raiding, pillaging, and spendi
C.T. Phipps
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grimdark
I was privileged enough to get a Advanced Reader's Copy of WHERE LOYALTIES LIE by Rob J. Hayes and feel like it'd be a good time to mention what I think of it well ahead of everyone else. Bwhahahaha! Yes, my book review will determine the fate of its success. You know, if anyone remembers what I said when it's released in may.

This book is a sequel, of sorts, set in the same world as Rob J. Hayes THE TIES THAT BIND series. Despite this, while reading the last book will enrich your experience, it
Kitvaria Sarene
Absolutely loved this one!

It should be said that there is plenty of violence, some descriptive sex (though thankfully only short scenes and not too many) and also some rape included - so it isn't for the faint of heart.

Aside from that, it was fast paced, had great characters, a lot of action, an interesting world, smooth prose - and was just a lot of fun all around! The next one will be added right to the top of my TBR, after I get through the few books I promised to review.

Definitely a 100% re
Martin Owton
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solidly constructed and fully seaworthy, crewed by well-realised characters and pushed along with a strong following wind! Would have liked to read the ships' log to know a bit more backstory but otherwise a great voyage.
It should be noted that this is very clearly book 1 of a series and none of the plot arcs resolve
C.H. Baum
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I can sum this book up in just a few words. Arg. Arrrrrgh. Argh? ARRRRRRGGGHHHH! After finishing this book (and it was a good one), for some reason, I feel like drinking and burning something to the ground.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Pirate captains with deep grudges and seething competition must figure a way to unite to survive the royal navy's growing pursuits to eradicate them.

This was my first Rob Hayes book. I haven't read his previous works, but that in no way hindered my reading experience. The further I got into this book, the harder it was to put down, a necessary quality for a 5-star rating from me.

There are a lot of point of view characters, and some introduced late in the book, but it served the experience of th
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review over at Fantasy Book Critic

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Rob J. Hayes is an author who appeared on to my radar when I read his debut The Heresy Within a little over 4 years ago. Since then after reading & thoroughly savoring the rest of his debut trilogy, I was simply convinced of his ample talent and the mysteries that were abundantly present in the First Earth world. This new duology has been delayed for over a year and the author has talked about the reasons over here on his blog. He even ha
Paul Lavender
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Who knew that fantasy pirates would be a big thing? Rob Hayes that’s who! This book has just won the SPFBO#3 and with good reason.
Sadir Samir
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is the first book from Rob J. Hayes that I've read, and I'm not the least bit surprised this book won the esteemed SPFBO award last year. In my opinion, the line between self-published books and traditionally published books is decreasing rapidly, but that's another subject for another time.

Where Loyalties Lie is an excellent take on pirates in a fantasy setting. The POV characters were all intriguing and fleshed out, and I found myself increasingly interested in the world beyond the isles
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Irreverent, improper, brutal, violent, and rollicking.

This is strangely somehow a lighthearted novel end to end despite the piracy, drug addiction, abuse, rape, a violent inquisition, and zombies. There is only a loose thread of main plot following the clashes between several band of pirates until near the end where things escalate, but mostly the book forms episodes of fights, storms and debauchery as we get to know the different factions.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where Loyalties Lie is swashbuckling fantasy in the style of Sebastien De Castell featuring scum-hero pirates, uncouth women and men and plenty of whores, rum and bad ale.

The writing style is the most striking thing about the book. It is written in a smooth, flowing, even carefree manner that allows for a lot of irregularities and freestyling. While it a fun style of writing, the best part is the concision. There are no dull moments of lengthy descriptions of places and dressing; those are repl
Coby Heitz
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was exactly what I'd been looking for. The pirate talk was very entertaining. The characters were intriguing. The plot was easy to follow but not overly simple. The combat was exciting, especially the fights at sea. I really enjoyed this read.
About the Book: Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in The Best Laid Plans duology and is also set in the same world as the author's prior trilogy, The Ties That Bind. There are crossover characters, but you do not need to read the prior trilogy to read this book.

This book is also a finalist in the 2017 SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off) and it's currently one of the front runners. After finishing the book, I can see why!

Fair warning up front here, this book is full of graphic language an
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's my first meeting with Rob J Hayes. I picked the book as part of my r/fantasy Bingo challenge and I'm glad I did. The book is part one of duology called Best Laid Plans.

Main character - Drake Morrass - is a classic sociopath who finds immense pleasure in bending other people to his will through manipulation, coercing, threaths and violence. I can't help it, I like the guy. Drake Morrass has an ambition - he wants to unite the pirates of the South Seas and build a nation. Also claim a crown f
Queen Terrible Timy
Actual rating: 4.5

Full review also available:

After the first 14 pages I knew I’m going to love this book, and I wasn’t far off. I did enjoy this book until the end, except a scene or two, but I’ll get back to this. This is a grimdark book, therefore it’s not for the faint hearted, so I was aware what I’m getting myself into. While I think Where Loyalties Lie deserved to be named as champion in the 3rd SPFBO, it still surprises me this one got the title. T
Rob Hayes
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
All this December I'm giving people a chance to win one of my books, and all you have to do to enter is draw me something piratical.
C.T. Phipps
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grimdark, fantasy


WHERE LOYALTIES LIE by Rob Hayes is technically part of the larger First Earth universe and a sequel to the Ties That Bind trilogy. It is, however, an individual work which functions on its own and the first novel in the Best Laid Plans duology. Got all that? Me neither. However, for the sake of this review, this is a great grimdark pirate novel with bloodshed and booty!

The premise is Drake Morass, professional conman and pirate, has decided he's gett
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Winner of Mark Lawrence's 3rd Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) with Where Loyalties Lie

Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as

Other books in the series

Best Laid Plans (2 books)
  • The Fifth Empire of Man (Best Laid Plans #2)

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