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This could be an epic fantasy on par with the very best. It is a world revealed at a tantalizing but slow pace, however. Those who like this novel cite that as a plus, but it can be frustrating. The writing is crisp and well done. The story arc has conflict, intrigue and twists. It has some great characters that may be somewhat limited by the first person chronicler narrative. There is violence, action and gritty dialogue. There is a developing back story of an magic system and mythology that intrigues but has not yet fully ramped up. There is fertile ground for multiple volumes of stories in this universe that Salyards has created, but he is presently content to slowly unwrap this present and to slowly build the story arc. The first two novels really seem like one giant unfinished single novel and I am curious to see how he puts this together in the third installment.
Chung is a talented and able narrator with a pleasant tone, but I had a little cognitive dissonance with the narration as he mixed American, British and Irish accents. Keeping it more consistent would have made it more seamless in a fantasy setting with medieval a Pseudo-European culture. A British narrator might have worked better.
All in all, this is a very good book with huge potential for multiple narratives.
Any additional comments?
Veil of the Deserters picks up exactly where Scourge of the Betrayer left off. And by that, I mean it starts right up following the end of Book One. It took me a bit to recall what all events had happened at the end of the first book, but pretty soon I was back into the story.
Once again we follow our bookish narrator Arki as he follows the Syldoon. While still a wimp, Arki is more active in this book as he's getting a little more used to his companions. The characters are wonderful and the dialogue (especially Mulldoos') is spectacular. We also get to meet a character even more intimidating, scheming, and bad-ass than Captain Killcoin. His sister. Salyards introduces us to her as well as a very awesome magic system.
Like with Book 1, expect some great action scenes. The world is very well done and what I really enjoy about it is that there is a grand sense of history and scale, but Salyards doesn't stop and puke out a bunch of history at you like many other authors do. Instead, he slowly reveals the world, building on it and allowing it to feel more natural.
Veil of the Deserters has more of an ending that Book 1 had, at least it felt more like an end. Scourge of the Betrayer just sort of stops, while this book closes with a promise that things are about to get a whole lot worse for our heroes.
Narrator Khris Chung has done an outstanding job. I enjoyed his timing in delivery, unique voices for each character, and I really like that he adds those little details such as sighs and laughs when appropriate. It's a true performance rather than a simple reading.