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Never Die

(The Mortal Techniques)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,158 ratings  ·  290 reviews
Samurai, shinigami, vengeful spirits, and an impossible quest.

Itami Cho has earned the name Whispering Blade. She is a Shintei warrior, sworn to the path of oaths and honour. But keeping her oaths has always been more difficult than taking them. When Flaming Fist and his bandits attack the city of Kaishi, Itami swears one last oath: she will protect the city and its people
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Rob J. Hayes
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Rob Hayes This book is a stand alone. However, I may write more stories in the same world sometime in the future.
Rob Hayes There are no plans at this time to translate it into any other languages.

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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,158 ratings  ·  290 reviews

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Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anime & Asian-inspired fantasy fans
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This review is quite long but the short version is this: Never Die is currently one of the three best self-published books I’ve ever read. If you still need more convincing, read further.

Joining The Mirror’s Truth by Michael R. Fletcher and We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson, Never Die is the third self-published book that currently holds a full 5-star rating from me. If you’re familiar with Hayes’s Where Loyalties Lie, which I assume is
chai ♡
Do I need other reasons to read this book beyond the fact that the cover is pretty and rumor has it the story is heavily inspired by Japanese anime?

To quote Hamlet, act III, scene iii, line 92, “no
Sean Barrs
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anime fans
To people that don’t read much self-published fiction, Rob J. Hayes is here to prove exactly why you should!

This is a great price of fantasy writing. It reminds me of mortal combat, as the characters duel to prove who is the best warrior. And they are quite a memorable cast, pulled together to serve the whims of an undead boy. Cho, the Whispering Blade, is as quiet as she is deadly. Zhihao Cheng, the Emerald Wind, can project images of himself and sneak up behind his opponent to deadly effect.
James Tivendale
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: freecopy, fantasy
I received an uncorrected proof copy of Never Die in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Rob J. Hayes for the opportunity. Contains minor spoilers.

The tale begins with an assault on Kaishi City. The notorious bandit Flaming Fist is searching for his missing daughter and will literally burn, and his accompanying rebel army will destroy anyone in his path until he has found her. On the opposite side of this deadly and bloody ruckus, we are introduced to Whispering Blade (Itami Cho) who ha
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

Never Die is hands down the best book Rob Hayes has written to date, and this is coming from someone who has really enjoyed everything I’ve read from him. It’s been a while since a book was so addictive that it kept me up late into the night because I needed to read just one more chapter, and it was an experience I relished with this book. It’s undoubtedly one of the best Asian-inspired fantasies I’ve read, as well as one of the best self-publi
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Never Die was brilliant. It had it all. Fearsome katana action? Tick. Hilarious interactions between bandits and heroes alike? Tick. Instantly likeable characters? Tick. A spooky young boy who can bring heroes back from the dead? Ti- okay maybe not the criteria you seek in every book but Never Die was a completely unique and fun read.

“Justice of the sword is just murder by another name.”

Rob Hayes has crafted a fantastic Samurai and Eastern-inspired fantasy book that subtly pulls the reader into
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“Honour can be lost a dozen times, and regained. Life can only be lost once, and never regained.”

🌟 After 3 years of reviewing books, I developed a hunch for the books I will like. It is like the clinical sense in medicine, something that is gained with experience and trial. I sometimes try to give books chances even if I feel I won’t like them. They mostly end up being disappointing so I learned to follow my gut even
Will.J.R. Gwynne
My review is now on BookNest...

Never Die - BookNest

I read Never Die as a judge for the SPFBO finalists. And I LOVED IT. Wonderful characterisation, intriguing plot, masterfully written action sequences and natural dialogue.

“The difference between the rich and the powerful was always made so much clearer by walls. The rich hide behind them, the powerful tore them down.”

Never Die is one of my favourite reads over the last year. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started, but by the end of the fir
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story is pure adrenaline. From the very first line through its twisty conclusion, Never Die showcases Rob Hayes’ talent in creating interesting and memorable characters while placing them in ever-escalating life-or-death situations. This is a story of vengeance and honor, delivered with the style and speed of an expert katana slash. It incorporates elements of Japanese mythology, including various species of yokai (spirit monsters), death gods, masters of qi, and resurrection, to name but a ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wuxia is violent and anti-Confucian. But also fun.

Hayes delivers a thrilling take on classic principles and conventions of wuxia while casting them in a new light (and in a secondary world based on east-Asian influences). Wandering warriors are mostly, but not fully, alive. Some follow a code of honour, others don’t care about such nonsense. 

A mysterious murdered eight-year-old boy - Ein sets on a mission to kill Emperor of Ten Kings. He can’t do it alone. He needs the help of heroes, preferabl
Nick Borrelli
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book surrounds the exploits of an enigmatic boy named Ein who was murdered years ago and is now on a mission from the god of death to kill the Emperor of Ten Kings. We don't know any of the backstory of Ein or why the emperor is his target, but what we do know is that in order to achieve this murderous task, he must recruit four heroes or champions to assist him in defeating this seemingly unconquerable figure. Recruiting these heroes does come with a big catch, you see they have to die firs ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Fares by: Hamad
4.5 stars

Thanx to Iron Brain Hamad for recommending this, you're the best ever! ❤

I did not see that ending coming tbh.
This was really fun to read.

I really loved all the characters in this but I was hoping Zhihao would get a more satisfactory arc, it was really good but I wish for a tiny bit more.
I loved the writing, the plot and the pace was good. There were moments where I wished this story was bigger, more of an Epic Fantasy than it was, I wished for world building and a proper explanation to
I received an eARC of this book from the author.

Now, that’s what I’m talking about when I say I love the Grimdark subgenre. This is it exactly.

Many describe Grimdark fantasy as that which is bleak and full of misery, lacking in hope. But to me, that’s not what it is at all. It might have some of these things on the surface, but it’s much more than that. I see it more as the story of grey characters striding the line between being a hero and a villain. It’s a struggle within and the study of the
Rob Hayes
Nov 08, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Never Die has finally been released upon this unwitting world!
Dyrk Ashton
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to get an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Never Die is The Seven Samurai meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in an action-packed story, inspired by both Chinese Wuxia and Japanese Manga. Drawing from Japanese folklore and a variety of East Asian martial arts traditions, this is an exciting tale of honor and redemption you don't want to miss. One of my favorite reads of the year.
Deborah Obida
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Deborah by: Petrik
Shelves: fantasy, adult
The only thing that's stopping me from giving this book 5 stars is the plot execution, I dislike it. I struggled through the first half of the book, though this book is action packed it was somehow hard to enjoy.

"The strong should always strive to help the weak. It is the very foundation of a wise society."

Apart from the above compliant I enjoyed every other part of this book. I thank Deathnote for my knowledge of shinigami. Shinigami is the Japanese gods of death, like all old gods they squ
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, thriller
5 Stars (Exceptional)

Never Die is a stellar, self published debut that is worth of every praise, and raises the 'fantasy' bar sky high!

Apart from its stellar, captivating cover, Never Die had over the top positive reviews, and the story intriguing and original hooked me from the start! It's quite amazing that a self-publishing author, Rob Hayes, could garnish such momentum in his work without the machinery of a big publishing company! Never Die was original, asian-inspired fantasy, with a a prem
Zitong Ren
Apr 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: diverse, 2020, action, war, fantasy
Never Die is a standalone self-published fantasy that is doing really well for a self-published novel and has generally really popular reviews all around from lots of reviewers that I am friends with. I certainly see the appeal of the novel, though I think that since I have generally been a lot of really good fantasy books recently, this unfortunately is not a new favourite for me. However, I certainly still enjoyed it and really liked so many aspects of the book. I also recently read The Sword ...more
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Never Die is the first book by Rob J Hayes I have read, and I can tell you without a doubt, this guy can write.

The story premise is very intriguing with a band of mercenaries being hired to assassinate an emperor. It’s anything but that simple though. The recruiter? A small boy who was murdered, brought back to life, is now on a mission for vengeance and is searching for heroes to complete this mission. The said heroes? Mythical warriors the boy, Ein, has read about in books, but they need to be
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: spfbo-2019
* I was sent this for free from the author in exchange for an honest review *

I have to admit that this one is a weird story and although I have really enjoyed all of Hayes' books so far, this one is probably the most unique of them all. This is the story of a young boy called Ein who is gathering Heroes from the land far and wide to work with him to take down the Emperor. The Heroes are all different and they come from all over, and Ein has to bring each one back from the dead to bind them to h
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Overall rating = 4.5 stars

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS (Mihir): Never Die is Rob J. Hayes' newest standalone fantasy and the first of his two releases in 2019. Rob was inspired to write this fantasy story due to an action sequence in a video game trailer as well as the innumerable anime movies that he gorged upon in his impressionable years. The world of Never Die was first introduced in Rob's short story in "The Two Faces of War" in the Art Of War: Anthology for Charity. For disclosure purposes, I was an
Sarah (thegirltheycalljones)
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sarah (thegirltheycalljones) by: Petrik
What a fantastic book! 4,5 stars, 5, who the fuck cares, it was awesome!

Not to sound snobby, but what a surprise to learn that this was self-published! The cover is exceptionnally pretty (Felix Ortiz is such a talented artist!) and, most of all, the content is absolutely brilliant!

Every major boxes are checked : great ideas, clear intentions, interesting and compelling lore, wonderful characters, good narrative, epic ending.

The ambiance set by the narrative is half-Asian tale, half-your-usual-
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of anime and Asian inspired fantasy.
Actual review: 4.5

“The thing about this world, the way to survive, is you either become the worst monster you can be, or you find someone else willing to be an even worse monster, and make yourself useful.”

Never Die is a standalone Asian-inspired fantasy novel that I found to be thought provoking and brilliant.


The story is a simple one: a little boy brings heroes back from the dead to satisfy an order put forward by a shinigami. Ein travels his own yellow brick ro
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What starts with a whisper, must end with a roar.

Ein has been given a task by a god of death: gather heroes of legend to end the life of the Emperor of Ten Kings. However, in order to do so, he must kill his companions to bind them to his cause to carry out his will. As they venture across Hosa towards the city of Jieshu, the seat of the Emperor, these heroes not only have to battle each other’s egos, but also dangerous creatures of myth that bar their path. Gathering aid and allies along the wa
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This ticked all the right boxes. I loved it!
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, fantasy
I read this book because I heard it's inspired by anime and it was. However, I realized that reading anime based books is probably not for me, especially if it's mostly fights and duels because I'd rather see them (manga/animated) instead of reading about it. I was never a big fan of fights in books honestly, I do not always rely on exactly what is written and instead create a fight from my own imagination. In addition, skimming through a fight will lead to the result and you won't miss anything ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rob J. Hayes impressed me with Drones, and Never Die promised to be a fast-paced fantasy, so I dove straight in.

I was not disappointed.

It's a captivating story, and Hayes is a gifted storyteller. I couldn't put the book down. I did not want to put the book down. Tight prose and short chapters make for excellent pacing.

Never Die shows that a simple story can turn into a memorable tale in the hands of a skilled author. Not a word is wasted. The characters are fleshed out, interesting, and their dy
Mike Everest Evans
Full review originally posted on

The Good: Awesome Asian-inspired anti-heroic fantasy (say that five times fast) with a cast of unusual suspects thrown together in the spirit of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the Dynasty Warriors franchise.

The Bad: During the first and second parts of the book I struggled to feel an emotional connection to the larger-than-life characters, but in the final section each of them lived up to their legends and came to life for me.

Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: demons, fantasy
*** 3.44 ***

This was actually very entertaining and a fast read. I loved the way the book was structured, it read like a Japanese Myth with all the traditional elements of warriors, demons, Death spirits and folk heroes. However, it was also a bit repetitive and formulaic for the bigger part of the book. The last 3% were really worth waiting for though, so I would say if you are a fan of the 80's Japanese Myth retellings in movie form, this might be something that would appeal to you. I know I u
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
This book is the shit!! For years I've been playing Dynasty Warriors, rewatching Ninja Scroll and silently jealous of people with names like Spear that Shakes the Sky or Golden Balls etc and in all honestly it never clicked that it was a complete genre in itself. I'm going to do a full review but right now I need to work on my Screaming Toad technique.
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: Enter the Dragon (Martial Arts/Wuxia) 38 33 Jun 27, 2020 07:46PM  

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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

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