Monday, January 18, 2021

Review: The Last Seer King by S.J. Hartland

by S.J. Hartland
Release Date: July 4th 2019
2019 Dark Blade Publishing
Kindle Edition; 611 Pages
ISBN: 978-0648437222
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars


For centuries, Roaran sought redemption. Now he can vanquish a tyrant and save a realm in chaos. But only if he cuts his last ties to humanity. Only if he returns to the one place that he swore he’d never dare go again…

Slaver, raider, and warlord, Dannon wants to believe in something beyond killing. His yearning will take him on a deadly path to his destiny… that he’s fated to put aside all he believes in and fight a war he can’t win.

A prisoner in the Icelands, about to be auctioned to the highest bidder, Val Arques has just one chance to escape and find Kaell before it’s too late—win at his captor’s dangerous psychological and sexual game or reveal the secret that will destroy him.

As for Kaell… fate isn’t quite done with him yet.

For the darkness taking over the kingdom can’t be defeated by the sword, only with the heart.

My Thoughts
The Last Seer King is the second book in the epic Shadow Sword series whereby our heroes are desperately fighting a war against the Ghoul-God Archanin who is slowly, but steadily, encroaching on the last remaining kingdoms in this world and will soon overthrow them all through his gift to enthrall, using both bloodlust and sorcery.  It took me awhile to get to this book because I was busy, but like the first book, I read it in hours, staying up late to finish, and it's a big book, over 600 pages.  Like the first one, there are many twists and turns, and the action picks up right where the last book finished, and is relentless in its pacing.

First of all, the character development is awesome.  That's not to say that I was overly fond of all the characters, even the so-called heroes, but that's why I liked this book so much because even the heroes were so flawed, making a lot of mistakes, acting on impulse and emotion.  

Kaell and Val, the main heroes of the first book, were still font and center of this one, trying to figure where each of them stands in terms of their relationship, through the bitter misunderstandings and betrayals.  The focus is much more on Val, which I liked, as I have developed a huge fondness for him, but that doesn't necessarily mean I like him all of the time, if that makes sense.  We definitely learn a lot more of his background and his history and some of what he suffered which makes you more sympathetic to his character, but his love for Kaell also makes him impulsive and causes him to misjudge a lot of things, hence the many plot twists that occur.  However, I like that he is so flawed and makes mistakes as it makes him more human, even if I get really frustrated with him. 

The story is told in multiple POVs and the author has done a marvelous job at making the switch between characters seamless.  Some of the new POVs are characters of whom we heard about in the first book but didn't really know anything about so now we have stories about Roaran and Dannon; Roaran is this ancient king and I'm only just beginning to get a glimpse of the role Dannon will play in the story as his role is so new, but the introduction of these two POVs was quite interesting.  I've now read enough of this author to understand I will find out exactly their roles in due time.  We do know a lot more about Roaran as some of his story was explained in the first book, but not too much about Dannon so I am looking forward to learning more about him.  His role is going to be huge, I think. 
A lot of the plot occurs in the Icelands this time around so we got learn a lot more about Heath's twisted family, including Myranthe, Griffin, Velleran, and Judith.  Those are some twisted people, let me tell you, and some twisted lands.  Myranthe is...vile.  There is no other word to describe her as the ways she went about torturing Val was just horrendous.  I can't wait for the day she gets her comeuppance, and I hope it's Val who does it as she forced Val to reveal his most horrendous and shameful secret which is one of the reasons for his behaviour in this book as he grappled with how to deal with his shame and self-loathing.  And Heath...oh my, I'll just leave it there.   

Kaell's fate was equally intriguing, but this is all I'll mention about him as there are too many spoilers around his story. All I'll say is that it was the last thing I was expecting, but the journey was quite intriguing and fascinating. The author definitely felt that Kaell's torture in the first book was not enough though. I really empathize with Kaell the most as I am never sure if he is going to make it while I am more sure about Val for some reason.  I always have this feeling like I just want to give him a big hug and tell him it's going to be okay, which is weird considering his a warrior of renown as much as Val.

The plot itself moved so rapidly I couldn't put the book down.  With an ancient prophecy about to come to fruition, many of the people in this story are trying to manipulate it for their own ends, so there is a lot of action and a lot of things going on, including manipulation and betrayal.  What it really does is make you question what is really going on, who is really involved in this prophecy, who the real heroes are, and is the prophecy even real. So many of my favourite characters had to go through some real challenges in both of these books so I can't imagine that what is coming will be easy for anyone and I am guessing the whole world will be turned on its head.
The Last Seer King was a fabulous sequel to the 19th Bladesman, and I enjoyed learning so much more about the world and its characters.  The writing is great, the character development is superb, and while a lot of my questions from the first book were answered, so many new things happened, I now need to read the next book in order for those questions to be answered.  The author definitely puts her characters through hell, and after one incident, I am now afraid they may not all survive, but that is part of the excitement of reading this book.  I am excited to learn there are five books in this series, and will soon be starting book 3, The Sword Brotherhood, but I will need to make sure I have a whole evening dedicated to the book set aside if they are anything like the first two books.   I highly recommend you read the first book before reading this one, and definitely read both of these before tackling the third, or a lot of things will not make sense; the books are highly connected and the author doesn't waste time explaining what happened in the first books, which I like. 



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